Category Archives: war

USS Ranger Flight Ops Off Vietnam 1972

From the good old days. The heart aches for the variety of aircraft on the flight deck in those days (ok I wasn’t born in ’72 but still).

 

 

 

 

SPOILER ALERT: Yeah, you can have that Viggie trap at the end. That quite frankly scared me a little and gave me a few gray hairs.

h/t to Comm Jam for the Facebook post.

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‘Some damn fool thing in the Balkans”

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Today marks the centennial of one of Western society’s most improbably momentous events.  It was on June 28th, 1914 that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the Countess Sophie of Hohenberg, were assassinated in the street of the Bosnian city of Sarajevo.  The events of that day, the failed bombing at the bridge, the missed attempt on the road, the wrong turn by the Archduke’s driver, the opportunity for another attempt on the Archduke’s life, are well-known.  The motives of the assassin, 19-year-old Gavrilo Princip, and his Mlada Bosna (Young Bosnia), a group supported by the infamous Black Hand, are well-documented and, to the serious student of Balkan history, quite familiar.

What is nearly impossible to understand, despite the volumes upon volumes of historical analysis and the (now) generally agreed-upon portrayal of events, is HOW the assassination of an Archduke, the heir to a throne whose sitting monarch despised him, and whom he in turn despised, could be the triggering event that led to the greatest blood-letting cataclysm in Western history.   There are superb pieces of research and analysis, among them Christopher Clark’s 2012 masterpiece The Sleepwalkers, and DJ Goodspeed’s The German Wars (1965), that provide detailed explanations of the diplomatic and military decisions that took Europe from a century of relative peace into a devastating conflict more profoundly destructive than the Thirty Years’ War.   Even with that,  a historian can often do little more than shake one’s head incredulously at the sequence of decisions and miscalculations that would pit the great nations against one another for four bloody years.

I offer, in no particular order, some of the factors which led to what can be described as the least necessary of wars.

A notable mediocrity amongst the foreign ministers of the belligerents, to include England’s Edward Grey, who failed to understand that England’s real interests were in a balance of European power, and not in France’s desire to avenge the humiliation of 1871.  There was Count Berthold of Austria-Hungary, whose distinct lack of subtlety in his demands to Serbia inflamed Russia (who held dreams of being the protector of “pan-Serbism” in the Balkans).   Russia’s Sazonov, a duplicitous and dishonest schemer who collaborated with France’s Poincaré to virtually guarantee war with Germany.  France’s revolving door of Foreign Ministers, none effective, that included René Viviani during what became known as the July Crisis.  Wilhelmine Germany’s Gottlieb von Jagow, whose terrible miscalculation of the Austria-Serbia crisis proved so tragic.

Detached and often delusional monarchs, whose laissez-faire approaches to their respective nation’s diplomatic postures during the critical weeks following the assassination allowed the respective foreign ministers mentioned above, along with military chiefs of those countries, to dictate rather than execute their nation’s foreign policies.  Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary only briefly interrupted his vacation after the assassination, and was largely absent from the seat of power in Vienna during most of the July Crisis.  When he did return, he was somewhat shocked at the harsh terms of the ultimatum to Serbia, crafted by his own Foreign Minister and Chief of Staff.  Tsar Nicholas in Russia was absent for crucial meetings between French President Poincaré and his own “war party” of Sazonov and War Minister Sukhomlinov, during which it is presumed Russia agreed to war with Germany should she intervene in the Austria-Serbia crisis.  Even the mercurial and impetuous Kaiser Wilhelm, whose envy of the Royal Navy (and subsequent Naval Race with Britain) and imperial desires were perceived by the British as threats to the Empire, was strangely passive during the playing out of the events of July 1914, limiting himself to making marginal notes in the diplomatic messages until the specter of a wider continental war elicited desperation.   The one exception as head of state is the aforementioned Raymond Poincaré, the French President, whose actively malignant role included agitating for the long-desired war of revanche with Germany, and enlisting the Russians to assist France in that effort.

The international order built so carefully by Bismarck in the later decades of the 19th Century was rendered topsy-turvy, with illogical alliances and unlikely enmities that cooler analysis and more competent diplomacy might have gone great lengths to remedy.   Britain had far more in common with Germany than with her traditional antagonist, France.  Germany had been to war with Austria in 1866, when it wrested away the German states from Vienna (and from the very same Franz Josef) to, eventually, in 1871, Berlin.  Kaiser Wilhelm and Tzar Nicholas, cousins (along with George V) and grandsons of Victoria, had warm personal relations, and many more reasons to cooperate over the breakup of European Turkey than to be in conflict.  England, for her part, had been the traditional guardian of the European balance of power before inexplicably abandoning that role in an informal (but in the end, very binding) alliance with France.

To the events of July 1914, technological development and industrialization would be a determinant of not just tactics and doctrine, but also would be a major factor in the shaping and executing of Grand Strategy for the countries embroiled in the crisis.   The mobilization of an army in the industrial age entailed a great deal of preparation, and once executed, left little to no room for equivocation.  To do so would be to throw the proverbial spanner in the works, causing upheaval, delays, and the real spectre of being unprepared and in the midst of deploying when war came.  Thus, when the decisions in the respective governments for mobilization came, war was all but inevitable.  Interestingly, the last continental power to order mobilization was Imperial Germany.  Wilhelm, with the prospect of war looming, had tried desperately to apply the brakes to the rapidly accelerating events.   That German war plans calling for the rapid defeat of France to avoid a two-front war were what impelled the German Army to violate Belgian neutrality is one of the tragic ironies of all history.  It was the invasion of Belgium which, in the end, made inevitable British intervention against Germany, preventing the very victory over France sought by the Germans, and all but ensuring their slow strangulation at the hands of the Royal Navy which they had so antagonized with the Naval Race in the previous two decades.

Of the battlefields themselves, much has been said.  The warning signs of what modern war would be had been plentiful for anyone who cared to see.  Dating to the American Civil War, the increasingly deadly weapons of the Industrial Age had made their presence felt.  Britain, certainly, had experience against an enemy armed with modern metallic cartridge rifles in South Africa, and had employed modern machine guns against its empire’s foes at places like Omdurman and Cape Colony.   Envisioning what being on the other side of the Maxim Gun would entail should not have been beyond imagination for the British Army’s Officer corps.  Modern breech-loading rapid-fire artillery, with recoil systems which eliminated the need to re-position guns after firing, had been in military inventories for more than two decades.  The battlefield tactics of 1914, a full generation behind those technological developments, were an invitation to the subsequent slaughter that ensued, resulting in the profligate wastage of much of the youth of Europe.   The names of the Somme, Verdun, Gallipoli, Jutland, Ypres, Loos, Caporetto, Tannenberg, Passchendaele, and the Isonzo all evoke images of privation and death without purpose, and rightly or wrongly, of incompetent and criminally obtuse military leadership.

The effect of the unprecedented butchery on the psyche of Western civilization is still being felt.  The old order in much of Europe, political as well as social, collapsed utterly.  The confidence in the enlightened nature of Man, of his scientific mastery, and his cultural education, was shattered forever.  Monarchies in Russia, Austria-Hungary, and Germany fell, replaced mostly by the anarchy of revolution.  In the wake of that revolution, spurred in great measure by the War to End All Wars, came the Bolsheviks and National Socialists who would ensure that the horrors of 1914-18 would be just a precursor to the bloodiest of centuries.

However implausible it may seem (and all the more implausible with closer analysis), the impetus for the Great War and all that followed occurred one hundred years ago today, when bullets from a sickly and tubercular young assassin’s pistol ended the lives of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife on a Sarajevo street.  The warnings of Bismarck in the 1878 Congress of Berlin to not allow Europe to devolve into general war over “some damned fool thing in the Balkans” went, in the end, unheeded.

 

 

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DHS is Our Standing Army? John W. Whitehead Goes All XBRAD at Rutherford Institute

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“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”—James Madison

Constitutional lawyer John W. Whitehead pens a very chilling summation of the growth of the American Police State.

In the 12 years since it was established to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States,” the DHS has grown from a post-9/11 knee-jerk reaction to a leviathan with tentacles in every aspect of American life. With good reason, a bipartisan bill to provide greater oversight and accountability into the DHS’ purchasing process has been making its way through Congress.

With that premise, Whitehead summarizes the most disturbing of the erosion of privacy and liberty as DHS becomes the “national police force” and proceeds to shred the Constitution.  It is worth the read.

I am going to be ordering Whitehead’s book, too.

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President Takes Decisive Action in Iraq

In a stunning reversal of his previous equivocation regarding US involvement in the worsening security situation in Iraq, President Obama stated that the US is prepared to act with strength and decisiveness to help defeat the ISIS radical jihadist forces that have engulfed several major cities and killed many thousands of Iraqis.

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There.  That’ll show ‘em.  Worked like a charm with Boko Haram in Nigeria, too.   They certainly have mended their ways.    Administration officials speculate that the Islamic Extremist fighters that have invaded Iraq have little chance of resisting the pressure of tweets and re-tweets that show support for the Iraqi people, and will be forced to withdraw.  On the outside chance that somehow ISIS can withstand such an onslaught of social media, the President is prepared to conjure his best “I’m not kidding” expression and talk about “consequences”, possibly even “dire consequences”.   No word yet on whether or not Secretary of State Kerry will scold ISIS for “behaving in a 7th Century fashion”.   New White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was quoted as saying, “The President is making the best of a situation left him by the previous Administration, which is responsible for declaring the war over and abandoning Iraq to its fate.  Wait, ….what?  That was us?  You sure?  No more questions!”

Gawd, we are so screwed.

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Obama’s Capitulation in Iraq

To be sure, when the last US forces left Iraq in 2011, the American population was ready for it. And the US forces had achieved most of their goals. The Hussein regime had been toppled, and a nascent viable government and security force were in place. 

Militarily, a small contingent should have been left to help build the Iraq forces, and to continue to reinforce their technical and tactical capabilities.

But during difficult negotiations with the Iraqi government over the Status of Forces led the Obama government to exercise its preferred option, and simply leave Iraq completely. After a fashion, it allowed Obama to proclaim victory. And the proclamation was far more important than any actual benefit or cost to the nation’s long term security interests.

And so we see today that Iraq has slowly been shuffling toward sectarian civil war. And now, the resurgent Al Qaeda group in the region, ISIS, has achieved significant victories in the last two days, seizing both Mosul, and today Tikrit.

This is, of course, precisely the situation critics of the abandonment policy warned of in 2011.

And not a few veterans are livid that the administration has squandered the chance for stability that their brothers in arms bought with their blood.

Then, by declining to provide a long-term security assistance force to an Iraq not yet able to handle the fight itself, we pulled defeat from the jaws of victory and increased the peril our Iraqi friends would face. By not training and equipping Syrian freedom fighters in the summer of 2012, we provided an opportunity for al-Qaeda to rebuild strength in the region. The renewed Sunni insurgency in Iraq joined with the worst of the anti-Assad forces in Syria present a threat greater than the fragile Iraqi government can handle on its own.

We are reaping the instability and increased threat to U.S. interests that we have sown through the failure of our endgame in Iraq and our indecisiveness in Syria. There is a clear lesson here for those contemplating a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Having given al-Qaeda a new lease on life in the Middle East, will we provide another base where it began, in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

This is not the end state my friends fought for and died for.

I understand that there is currently no popular public support for a recommitment of US troops to Iraq. But that isn’t the only option on the table.

It isn’t like the attacks on Mosul and Tikrit were wholly unexpected by the Iraqi government.

In fact, the Iraqi government requested US airpower, both manned and unmanned strikes, on ISIS assembly areas to blunt their attacks.

And Obama turned them down.

As the threat from Sunni militants in western Iraq escalated last month, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki secretly asked the Obama administration to consider carrying out airstrikes against extremist staging areas, according to Iraqi and American officials.

But Iraq’s appeals for military assistance have so far been rebuffed by the White House, which has been reluctant to open a new chapter in a conflict that President Obama has insisted was over when the United States withdrew the last of its forces from Iraq in 2011.

The swift capture of Mosul by militants aligned with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has underscored how the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have converged into one widening regional insurgency with fighters coursing back and forth through the porous border between the two countries. But it has also cast a spotlight on the limits the White House has imposed on the use of American power in an increasingly violent and volatile region.

A spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Bernadette Meehan, declined to comment on Mr. Maliki’s requests and the administration’s response, saying in a statement, “We are not going to get into details of our diplomatic discussions, but the government of Iraq has made clear that they welcome our support” in combating the Islamic extremists.

As I mentioned to a friend in relation to this topic either intentionally or through incompetence, the Obama administration has virtually always sided with the most islamist faction in every issue.

And a pretty fair amount of support could be provided to the Iraqi government without substantial presence of US forces inside Iraq. And while the American public is quite wary of any entanglements of troops on the ground, they’ve shown a remarkable complaisance toward US airpower being used. How many times has the US used drones in Yemen or Pakistan with little or no reaction from the general public?

Shift your eyes from the chaos in Iraq to Afghanistan, and we see the administration striving mightily to again flee the field. Look at the ability of the US to depose a mostly neutered Libyan strongman in favor of radical islamists, and to consistently back the most radical parts of the Muslim Brotherhood against popular opposition in Egypt. The administrations dithering and incomprehensible approach to Syria (admittedly, not a place with a lot of good options) hasn’t improved matters much.

Obama has repeatedly touted his “successes” as having “Al Qaeda on the run.” Sadly, it appears Al Qaeda is indeed running, sprinting for the finish line, while Barry trots to the locker room.

Obama will do anything to end  a war. Except win.

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“Fighting Joe” Dunford is the Next Commandant of the Marine Corps

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Congratulations to General Joseph Dunford, nominated by Secretary of Defense Hagel to be the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps.  Marine Corps Times has the story. 

I have known General Dunford a long time, since he was the MOI at Holy Cross in the late 80s.  I had the distinct honor to serve with then-Colonel Dunford in Al Anbar in 2004, when he was MajGen Mattis’ Chief of Staff.  BGen John Kelly was the ADC, and LtGen James Conway had the MEF (and the MEF SgtMaj was the incomparable Carlton Kent).  What a team!    Joe Dunford also skipped a pay grade.  He was nominated for his second star, and before he pinned on his new rank, picked up his third star!  Nearly unheard of in today’s day and age.

Lord knows, the Marine Corps needs a warrior, and an INFANTRY OFFICER at its helm.   The infantryman is the very soul of the Marine Corps, and the Commandant should be someone who knows him and his comrades intimately.   Besides, the Amos years have not been good.

Congratulations, General Joe Dunford.   Our Marine Corps is in your capable hands.  Right where it should be.   Godspeed.

(I am willing to overlook that he went to BC High.)

H/T to LTCOL P

 

 

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The Las Vegas Shootings

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Yesterday’s tragic shooting of two police officers and an innocent woman in Las Vegas is headline news this morning.    Reports are that a man and a woman opened fire on two police officers while they were eating lunch.  What was also reported was that one of them said “This is the start of a revolution!” before killing the officers.   The news this morning is that they covered the bodies of the slain officers with the Gadsden “Don’t tread on Me” flags now commonly associated with the Tea Party movement.  CNN headlines scream that the couple had “extremist views”, but cite only “law enforcement sources”.

The couple apparently had a “suicide pact”, and the woman reportedly killed the man before turning her weapon on herself.

There are, however, some things to note about the tragedy.  The first is that the news has swept the Bowe Bergdahl fiasco from the headlines, including yet another instance of Susan Rice knowingly lying in front of the TV cameras for America’s consumption.   The second thing to note is that the incident fits so very neatly into the propaganda efforts of this Administration for gun confiscation, for increasing the authority of law enforcement against private citizens, and for the idea that political opposition should be criminalized and demonized so that they may be treated as America’s enemies, to be subsequently crushed using the overwhelming power of government forces.

So, in a way that I would not have been, even during the Clinton Administration, I am deeply uneasy and suspicious of yesterday’s events in Las Vegas.   The Obama Administration has been very close to an outlaw regime, and has condoned or perpetrated criminal activity since Inauguration Day.   The list is long, very long, and I only offer some of the examples here:

  • The patently illegal payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money to unbonded shareholders (largely held by union interests) ahead of bonded shareholders in the auto bailouts was a violation of the law.
  • The Fast and Furious debacle, Holder’s gun-running scheme to make the case for gun confiscation, was certainly criminal, and led directly to the death of a USBP agent, and hundreds of Mexican civilians.  Holder’s claims of ignorance of the details of the operation are laughable.
  • The IRS scandal, in which the powers of the Federal Government were employed in the persecution of law-abiding political opposition, has Lois Lerner asking for 5th Amendment protection.
  • The subpoena of phone records by Justice, without warrant or cause, represents additional criminal misconduct on the part of Holder.
  • The deceit and cover-up regarding the Benghazi fiasco, including witness intimidation and contempt for a Congressional hearing, is yet another violation of law for which this Administration is responsible.
  • Even what Obama hoped would be a propaganda coup with the release of Bergdahl was done in knowing violation of the law, a law Obama vows he would break again if convenient.

In each of the above incidents, the Obama Administration has not only withheld the truth and obstructed justice, but has put forth carefully concocted lies to cover its malfeasance and real motives.   Which is why the shooting in Las Vegas yesterday, which contain every last element that the Obama Propaganda Ministry (with the willing complicity of the vast majority of the press) will maximize to push the Obama big-government, anti-gun, statist, thought-crime agenda, seems so incredibly convenient.

What you will see as a result of the Las Vegas tragedy will be accusations from Democrats and Socialist Progressives that the Tea Party is violent after all, representing a danger to the government and to American citizens.  You will see increased calls for gun control, and gun confiscation, and more “national conversations” about eliminating the Second Amendment.  You will also see this incident leveraged to increasingly identify political opposition to the President and the far-left as being dangerous and requiring increased surveillance, censorship, and other restrictions on liberty.  You will also see police use the incident as a justification for even more abuse of authority, increasingly thuggish tactics, less restraint, and more use of force with questionable cause.

The shooting yesterday in Las Vegas may have been exactly as it is being described, with two extremists who split off from an assiduously law-abiding political movement to perpetrate this awful crime.  But with the Obama Administration’s unscrupulous and criminal history, and its ruthless push toward totalitarian authority against a disarmed and supplicant populace, I have reason to be both cynical and skeptical in a way that I never have before.  Pardon me if there seems to be a faint odor of smoke from the Reichstag about all of this.

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After all, it isn’t like Barack Obama is a stranger to a man and woman who cried “Revolution!” and proceeded to murder police officers.  In fact, Obama’s political career started in their living room.

 

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DaveO at Op-For has Questions

They should be everyone’s questions.  The true answers to which may cement the Obama Administration as an outlaw regime that makes Richard Nixon on his worst day look like honesty itself.

Who is America’s negotiator with the Taliban?

Are we also negotiating with AQ?

Are we negotiating with terrorist groups in the Philippines and/or Thailand? What are they getting from the White House?

Why won’t the White House negotiate with Congress? Not enough beards?

Why these particular 5 Taliban? Who read their dossiers and agreed that lesser capable detainees in Gitmo would not suffice?

“Curiosities” indeed.  Perhaps it is time for a “revolt of the Generals”.  Though those in senior positions seem to have been placed there with careful consideration to their political pliability/reliability and their distinct lack of spinal column.  The pattern of military and foreign policy of this Administration, if laid out chronologically and without the spin of the lap-dog MSM co-conspirators, can only be described as an active effort to erode America’s security and military capability.  The time for calling such “miscalculation” and “blunder” has long passed.

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More About the Reconstituted Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee

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XBRAD told us about this the other day.  He openly questioned its purpose, especially in light of the track record of this Administration to act illegally and oversee the persecution of law-abiding political opponents with the apparatus of their own government.

Well, Eric Holder tells us the purpose of this new task force:

But we also must concern ourselves with the continued danger we face from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of other causes from anti-government animus to racial prejudice.

Anyone who doesn’t pick up on the verbiage has missed the last five years of Eric Holder’s corrosive and bigoted black activism.  There was, of course, the FBI memorandum telling us that returning white Veterans who believe in God, small government, and the right to keep and bear arms are domestic terrorist suspects.  There is the military’s “education” (extracted from documents at the Southern Poverty Law Center, no less) that conservative groups and Christian organizations are akin to the KKK.   And that military members may be charged under the UCMJ for supporting and belonging to such groups.  The US military has routinely run training scenarios in which the adversary is “right-wing extremist”, which is to say, actual and otherwise law-abiding citizens who are magically attributed a violent character which requires a military response so they may be “crushed”. Then, there is the study a couple of years ago in which “domestic terrorists” were defined as those who “defended the Constitution” and have reverence for individual liberty.

One has only to quickly peruse the various “See Something, Say Something” Public Service Announcements about terrorism to see that virtually every portrayal of a terrorist is a white male.  All of them.  Despite the 1993 WTC bombing, 9/11, Khobar Towers, USS Cole, the Boston Marathon bombing, and dozens of other domestic attacks and murders perpetrated by Muslim Jihadists, the US Government’s portrayal of terrorists is invariably white and male.

So the Domestic Terrorism Executive Committee?  Under an Attorney General who has vowed not to pursue cases that reflect badly on “his people”?   In an Administration that has perpetrated use of the IRS, EPA, Justice, and NSA to visit retribution on individuals and groups that differ politically with the far left?  Place your bets.   Gabriel Rottman, First Amendment lawyer for the ACLU, already has.

Given the already lenient standards for when the government can launch an investigation, the announced task force is both unnecessary and an invitation to investigate Americans because of the beliefs they hold, not because of any wrongdoing.

Which is to say, with this Administration especially, conservative heterosexual white males.  And other, law-abiding political opponents.  And one can reasonably assume that this “Executive Committee” will have all the trappings of due process that comes with a closed-door deliberation of “informed high-level government officials” instead of those pesky and inconvenient Constitutional rights under the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 14th Amendments.

Oh, and by the way…

I… do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

H/T to Fran

 

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Women can be Marine Infantry Officers. All You Have to do is Change the Standards.

Feminist advocate Ellen Haring, a Reserve Army Colonel, wrote a piece over at War on the Rocks about how to fix why females cannot pass the US Marine Corps Infantry Officers’ Course.   Not surprisingly, Haring’s assertions ring hollow and partisan to any Marine ground combat Officer, especially one with the Infantry MOS.

…why are the physical standards different for officers and enlisted infantry Marines?…
Officers and enlisted infantrymen perform the same physical tasks in their units and during combat operations.  The discriminator between officer and enlisted has always been education, not physical differences.

What Haring writes is utter nonsense.  The answer, which should be glaringly evident to someone with the rank of Colonel, is that Marine Officers must not just “perform the same physical tasks”, but to LEAD, and lead by physical example.  A great deal of a young Officer’s credibility with his Marines comes from the display of physical courage and personal fitness, which includes strength, stamina, and endurance.  A Marine Infantry Officer must be prepared to lead despite extreme physical fatigue, and retain the ability to make alert and sound decisions.  The lives of his platoon or company depend upon it.  That Haring ignores such a fundamental of leadership in a combat MOS is not surprising, and I don’t think for a minute it is unintentional.

Haring also cites the op-ed by 2nd Lt Santangelo, in which the Lieutenant asserts that expectations, and not physical limitations, are the reasons for failure among the female Officers.  Nowhere does Haring mention the viewpoint of Captain Kate Petronio, whose extensive experience serving beside Marine Infantry units would seem to have a bit more validity than to be ignored.

Haring’s focus is, of course, the Combat Endurance Test, a grueling physical event that has been a part of the Infantry Officers’ Course for decades.  This is where 13 of the 14 female Officers have failed, and it is administered on the first day of training.  (The 14th female was dropped with a stress fracture in the first few days of training.)  Haring calls the Combat Endurance Test an “initiation”, rather than an occupational qualification, and to an extent that is correct.  In order to lead Infantry Marines, an Officer must successfully complete that test.  So, of course, since it is a stumbling block for 93% (at least) of the female Officers, Haring takes aim at that event.  And here is the crux of her argument:

Do initiation rites have a place in our military?  There will be those who argue that they absolutely have a place in developing the esprit de corps that is vital to the Marine Corps and those arguments have merit.  Certainly the Marines have built their reputation on being tough, trained professionals whose motto Semper Fidelis (always faithful) embodies their total dedication to this country and to the Corps. But does an initiation rite that effectively filters out half the American population (all women) do the Marine Corps justice?

It is that last line which says it all.  Haring apparently has issue with how the Marine Corps trains its Infantry Officers, as such training doesn’t do the Corps “justice”.   Huh.  Here I was thinking the Corps had a rather successful training program for what it rightly considers the backbone of the service, the Marine Infantry Officer.  Haring parenthetically mentions that such training “filters out” women, as if that part of her argument is an afterthought.  In reality, her entire effort centers around that very premise.  While she goes on to say that she is not advocating elimination of the Combat Endurance Test, she does advocate advancing female Officers through IOC without passing the test, as she claims male officers have done, and allow females to repeat the test (one assumes, indefinitely), until they pass.  (I question the accuracy of her assertions that males have been given unlimited chances to pass the Combat Endurance Test, and know of several males who have washed from IOC because they could not do so.)

This will have the effect of making passing of the Combat Endurance Test a graduation requirement rather than an entry requirement.  Of course, once a female Officer has had all that time and money invested in her training, the argument will then be to waive passing of the Combat Endurance Test altogether.  Because it would be foolish and wasteful to put a female Officer through all that training and not have her graduate.  Which will be precisely the goal of feminist activists like Haring.  Female Marine Infantry Officers, no matter how unqualified or ill-equipped to be such.  Because, well, the cause is more important.

So, despite her assertions that she does not advocate changing the standards in order to have female Marine Officers become Infantry Officers, she is advocating just that, and she knows it.  Like so many in the “girl power” feminism ranks, she simply lacks the integrity to say so.

h/t to Info Dissem

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The only thing that seems right are 2 words, “Thank you.”

I did attend the Pritzker Military Museum and Library’s exhibit opening of SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice.  Again the exhibit features photographs from Stephanie Freid-Perenchio’s book SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice.

The exhibit also featured artifacts from the Navy SEAL Museum. These ranged from patches to uniforms to equipment used by the Teams throughout it’s rich history.

The exhbit opening was one of the most well attended event I’ve been to. A lot of the Library’s members were in attendance. There were also quite a few active duty and retired SEAL Team members there who were kind enough to answer questions about the Teams.

Perhaps the most poignant part of the exhibit was the offical U.S. Navy photo exhibit of Team members killed in action of training since 9/11/01.

I spent time looking at the photos and noticied a woman taking photographs of a few of the photographs. I asked her if she knew them and she said yes. Her husband (who was in attendance) served with them. There really isn’t anything you can say. I’m an outsider and as they say “for those who know, no explantion is necessary. In moments like these you feel insignifcant and everything else falls away and is trite by comparison. The best you can do is attempt to live by their example:

I always remember the story about the guy in BUDs who died in the pool during an excerise and was resuscitated.

And they passed him, even though he’d failed the excersie, because he was willing to take it to the absolute limit.

They can train around failure – you can’t train that sort of devotion to cause.

The only thing that seems right are the 2 words, “Thank you.”

SEALs killed in action or training since 9/11/01 (as of today):

ABH1 Roberts Neil C 3/4/2002

HMC Bourgeois Matthew J. 3/28/2002

IC1 Retzer Thomas E. 6/26/2003

PH1 Tapper David M. 8/20/2003

BM1 Ouellette Brian J. 5/29/2004

SO1 Harris Joshua T. 8/30/2008

SOC Freiwald Jason R. 9/11/2008

SOCS Marcum John W. 9/11/2008

SOC Brown Adam L. 3/17/2010

SOC Thomas Collin T. 8/18/2010

SO1 Nelson Caleb A. 10/1/2011

SO2 Kantor Matthew G. 11/1/2012

SO1 Ebbert Kevin R. 11/24/2012

SO1 Checque Nicholas D. 12/8/2012

SO1 Leathers Matthew J. 2/19/2013

LT Murphy Michael P. 6/28/2005

STG2 Axelson Matthew G. 6/28/2005

GM2 Dietz Danny P. 6/28/2005

FCC Fontan Jacques J. 6/28/2005

ITCS Healy Daniel R. 6/28/2005

LCDR Kristensen Erik S. 6/28/2005

ET1 Lucas Jeffrey A. 6/28/2005

LT McGreevy Michael M., Jr. 6/28/2005

MM1 Patton Shane E. 6/28/2005

QM2 Suh James E. 6/28/2005

HM1 Taylor Jeffrey S. 6/28/2005

SO2 Smith Adam O. 9/21/2010

LT Looney Brendan J. 9/21/2010

SO3 Miranda Denis 9/21/2010

SO1 Benson Darrik C. 8/6/2011

SOC Bill Brian R. 8/6/2011

SOC Campbell Christopher G. 8/6/2011

SOC Faas John W. 8/6/2011

SOC Houston Kevin A. 8/6/2011

LCDR Kelsall Jonas B. 8/6/2011

SOCM Langlais Louis J. 8/6/2011

SOC Mason Matthew D. 8/6/2011

SOC Mills Stephen M. 8/6/2011

SO1 Pittman Jesse D. 8/6/2011

SOCS Ratzlaff Thomas A. 8/6/2011

SOC Reeves Robert J. 8/6/2011

SOCS Robinson Heath M. 8/6/2011

SO2 Spehar Nicholas P. 8/6/2011

SO1 Tumilson Jon T. 8/6/2011

SOC Vaughn Aaron C. 8/6/2011

SOC Workman Jason R. 8/6/2011

SO1 Feeks Patrick D. 8/16/2012

SO2 Warsen David J. 8/16/2012

AO2 Lee Marc A. 8/2/2006

MA2 Monsoor Michael A. 9/29/2006

SO2 Schwedler Joseph C. 4/6/2007

SO1 Lewis Jason D. 7/6/2007

SOC Carter Mark T. 12/11/2007

SOC Hardy Nathan H. 2/4/2008

SOC Koch Michael E. 2/4/2008

CDR Oswald Peter G. 8/27/2002

ENS Pope Jerry O., II 10/16/2002

IT2 Maestas Mario G. 7/3/2003

HMCS Fitzhenry Theodore D. 6/15/2004

SO2 Ghane Shapoor A., Jr. 1/30/2008

SOCS Valentine Thomas J. 2/13/2008

SOC Vaccaro Lance M. 3/6/2008

SOC Shellenberger Erik F. 5/7/2009

SO2 Job Ryan C. 9/24/2009

SO2 Woodle Ronald T. 2/16/2010

SOC Shadle Brett D. 3/28/2013

SO3 Kaloust Jonathan H. 5/15/2013

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China Provides a Lesson About Influence Squadrons

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Sort of Sir Julian Corbett meets Woody Allen.  (“Ninety percent of life is just showing up”. )  From Forbes.com:

On Wednesday, Vietnamese officials announced that one of China’s ships intentionally rammed two of their Sea Guard vessels.  The incidents took place on Sunday, the 4th.  Six were injured, according to Hanoi.

“Chinese ships, with air support, sought to intimidate Vietnamese vessels,” said Tran Duy Hai of the Foreign Ministry at a news conference.  Other officials said six other Vietnamese craft were hit.

The incidents occurred after China National Offshore Oil Corp., better known as CNOOC , had on May 2 towed a deep-water rig, the size of several football fields, to an area that Hanoi claims is within its exclusive economic zone, near the Paracel Islands.

Beijing brought a fleet of about 80 vessels to keep the Vietnamese from stopping the oil rig, designated HD-981.  CNOOC called HD-981 a “strategic weapon”at its launch in 2012.

This is not some commercial venture, nor can any Chinese incursion of this type ever be so considered.

…it is clear that the company was using the rig at Beijing’s behest.  “This reflected the will of the central government and is also related to the U.S. strategy on Asia,”said a Chinese oil official, speaking anonymously to Reuters, about drilling in Vietnam’s waters.  “It is not commercially driven.  It is also not like CNOOC has set a big exploration blueprint for the region.”

It did not take long for Chinese leaders to test President Obama’s general commitment to maintain regional security after his eight-day, four-nation “reassurance” visit there at the end of last month.  …This is the first time China has drilled in Vietnamese waters.  Moreover, this is the first time Beijing openly used its “gray hulls”—navy ships—in close support of “white hulls”—civilian maritime craft—while enforcing a territorial claim, according to the Nelson Report, the Washington insider newsletter.  There are seven Chinese naval ships in the vicinity of the rig.

Perhaps President Obama and his Administration can begin to appreciate the value of a truly global Navy with sufficient hulls and capabilities to protect US interests and that of her allies.   An inadequate number of large, expensive capital ships cannot provide adequate forward presence in all the places in which such presence is required, irrespective of the relative combat power of the individual warship.  Wednesday’s events near the Paracels provides an object lesson of precisely that.   China’s example of the use of an “influence squadron” is a telling one.  The PLA Navy is where the PRC wishes it to be in order to further Chinese interests.  Those interests are being furthered at the direct expense of US interests.  And the US Navy, stretched past the breaking point by global commitments with a shrinking force, is notably absent in the role of forward presence.

The entire episode of China’s expansion of exploration into the Paracels, the erecting of a massive rig structure, and the protection of that rig with Navy units shows also that The People’s Republic of China is no more intimidated by the hollow platitudes of President Obama’s guarantees to our Asian allies than Vladimir Putin is by Obama’s incessant harping on non-existent “consequences” for actions along Russia’s borders.  Once again, we have rivals and potential adversaries who understand power.  The ability to influence allies and enemies to act in a way which is in consonance with one’s national interests, and the willingness to use all the elements of national power to bring that about.

The common thread along both Russia’s western border and the South China Sea is a feckless and vacillating United States, whose statecraft is in the hands of naive and talentless amateurs who are rapidly dismantling their own military capabilties.  Small wonder our allies are not reassured by the words of our President.  Because, like our rivals East and West, they know those words are without consequence, because they are without the will (nor soon, the means) to give them meaning.

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Filed under Around the web, China, Defense, guns, history, marines, navy, obama, Politics, Uncategorized, veterans, war, weapons

Michelle Obama’s Trite and Meaningless Gesture

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By now most of us have seen the above image of First Lady Michelle Obama holding a “hashtag” sign in reference to the kidnapping of nearly 300 Nigerian Christian girls by Islamic extremist terror group Boko Haram. Maddening as it is, the image is appropriately symbolic of the Obama Presidency. This silly idea that “Twitter” hashtags being circulated amongst empathetic bystanders somehow equates to actually DOING SOMETHING is right in line with the abysmally weak and ineffective foreign policy of her husband’s administration. Which is to say bold and serious talk of “red lines” and “changing calculus” is accompanied by stern warnings and finger wagging, talk of “consequences”, “sanctions”, and “pivots”, all amounting, like this hashtag nonsense, to nothing at all of any value or consequence.

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Worse, Michelle Obama’s meaningless little stunt comes after her husband’s State Department assiduously avoided labeling Boko Haram as a terrorist organization for more than four years. The burning of churches, the murder and torture of thousands of Nigerian Christians, elicited not a peep from Michelle Obama. She seems only now to care in the slightest because Boko Haram’s campaign of terror and murder can be seen as a “women’s issue”.   And Lord knows she needs to be at the front lines in the “War on Women”. Just like Hillary Clinton, who now sees Boko Haram as “abominable” and “criminal”, committing “terrorist acts”. For the four years in which the State Department dithered in labeling Boko Haram as terrorists, however, the Secretary of State was that very same Hillary Clinton.

Also, Michelle, the abducted girls are not “yours”. Even though you think some idiotic picture of you with a “hashtag” showing “support” makes them so. They are the children of parents who have lived in fear of violence and death at the hands of these Islamic extremists for half a decade. Those extremists are armed partially by the very same weapons, and trained by the very same fighters, that your husband’s administration provided when it shipped arms to in Libya to overthrow a docile Khaddafi, all the while “leading from behind”.  Those Islamic extremists have now metastasized across Africa, into Mali, and the CAR, Algeria, and northern Nigeria. Boko Haram is, in no small part, what it is because of the wildly misguided and irresponsible policies of Barack Hussein Obama.

Men such as those that comprise Boko Haram and the other malignant Islamist terrorists that are soaking Africa’s sand with blood, Christian and Muslim?  They cannot be reasoned with. They are not open to “negotiation” or “beer summits”. Your pathetic display is fodder for their humor, as it shows how intellectually and morally weak you are. Such men as Boko Haram are not men with whom one can live peacefully, ever.  No, those men need to be killed. When it comes to that, other men, good men, far better men than your husband, leave their loved ones to face the danger and the fear, to risk everything to keep the wolves at bay.   They go because their country calls them to go. And because they know that the safety of those they love depends on their willingness to put their lives on the line to kill those with whom peaceful coexistence is impossible.

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And when some of those good, brave men die keeping us safe, we honor them and remember them. Men like Ty Woods and Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Chris Stevens.  Part of that ceremony involves the respectful handling of the symbol of the nation they fought and died for.   That’s right, Michelle. All that for a flag. Because their sacrifice is what stands between our children and Boko Haram. And they gave their last full measure of devotion. While you tweeted. Which is why you will never understand about the flag. Much to your lasting shame. Such men have always been proud of their country, even if you aren’t.  Because you haven’t the wherewithal to understand why you should be.

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Infographic: Current Ukrainian and Russian Military Deployments

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Various open sources place the total current Russian troop deployment at around 40,000. We know that Edward Snowden is working with the Russian government (remember the good old days when we’d shoot traitors?) and because of this the Russians probably have a better idea of how to evade US satellites (and shall we say “other” intelligence assests) that are currently monitoring the Russian military. I think a safe bet would be to add at least 30% to the open-source number.

Just my opinion anyway.

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SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice

The SEAL Budweiser

The SEAL Budweiser

The United States Navy SEALs have a a relatively short but active history in the United States special operations community. During World War 2 they were orignally called “amphibious scout and raiders” that conducted reconaisance of enemy beachheads. Formally established as SEAL (SEa Air Land) Teams  on 1 Janurary 1962 by President John F. Kennedy, they have partcipated an all major conflicts since Vietnam (and including some that we’ll never know about).

SEALs, with good reason, normally shun any kind of publicity. I like to say that if someone tells you they’re a SEAL, the odds are that they aren’t. More recently, the mass-media attention surrounding Operation Neptune Spear (and in particular SEAL Team 6) and a spate of movies has turned the public’s attention towards The Teams. Photographer Stephanie Fried-Perenchio’s collection of photographs, in the book, SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice captures roughly 12 years of SEAL daily life and that of thier families and especially the neverending Team deployments in support of the Global War On Terror.

On May 8th at 6pm cst, the Pritzker Military Museum and Library will be have photographs on display from SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice,with the photographer, Stephanie Fried-Perenchio in attendance as well as artifacts donated from the Navy Seal Museum. In addition, there will be an offical Navy photo exhibit commemerating SEALs killed in training or action since 9/11/01.

The event is open to the public and will be a reception featuring the book’s author and retired SEALs. The cost for admission is $20 and again is open to the public.

You can purchase ticket for the event here.

I hope to see you there.

If readers aren’t in the Chicagoland area but know people are and would be interested in this event please pass this information on.

I’d also kindly and respectfully ask any Mil-bloggers to assist in getting the word out about this event.

Thank you.

Spill

STEPHANIE FREID-PERENCHIO

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Lazarus Calls for Executing Plan URR with Tico Reduced Commission Proposal

Information Dissemination contributor (and Salamander Front Porch regular) Lazarus lays out a good plan which should ring slightly familiar.  Laz’s post contains far more practical information than my conceptual musings, and I am very pleased to see the ideas be floated in such a widely-read forum as ID.

A Ticonderoga class cruiser shorn of most of its combat systems, operations, and supply departments would qualify for nucleus crew status. A U.S. nucleus crew might spend a week to 10 days per quarter underway with these opportunities spread out rather than concentrated in one at sea event. Underway periods need be no greater than 24 hours in duration in order to provide elements of basic crew training. Crews could eat pre-prepared meals for short underway periods, and a shore-based centralized supply office could support individual ship’s logistics and maintenance support needs. All CGs selected for such a program would be assigned to geographic areas relatively free from foul weather sortie requirements. The program would need to be flexible in order to be resilient through periods of fluctuating budget support.

Lazarus points to the wear and tear that the Ticos have endured, and is far more diplomatic than I have been about the cause of their “rapid aging”.

Shortfalls in training and maintenance in the decade of the 2000’s as highlighted in the Balisle report further indicate the class has been proverbially “put away wet” without necessary attention as well.

In short, a bunch of senior Naval Officers, including a number of Admirals, decided that skimping on maintenance and manpower was a good way to save money.  For all of their MBAs and other service experience, that cabal of Officers cost this country and its Navy BILLIONS of dollars in premature retirement of fully capitalized assets, by formulating a stupid and short-sighted plan that ignored the very fundamentals of equipment operation that any Vocational High School Equipment Maintenance and Repair teacher could have taught them in ten minutes.

I do hope someone is listening at Big Navy.  Otherwise more valuable assets and taxpayer treasure go down the drain for the stubborn stupidity of our Navy’s leadership.

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Filed under Around the web, budget, China, Defense, guns, history, logistics, navy, obama, Politics, stupid, Uncategorized, veterans, war, weapons

Today is ANZAC Day

anzac hat

Today is the 25th of April.  It is ANZAC Day, commemorating the 99th anniversary of the landings of 31,000 men of The Australian Division, and the Australian-New Zealand Division (reinforced with two batteries of mountain guns) on the crescent-shaped portion of beach known as Ari Burnu, forever after known as Anzac Cove.

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The ANZAC landing began before dawn on 25 April 1915, and was initially unopposed,  By mid-morning, however, Turkish troops under LtCol Mustapha Kemal had reacted strongly and taken the landing beaches and the precariously shallow Dominion positions under rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire.  Unable to move forward, and hanging onto hillside rocks and scrapes, ANZAC Commander MajGen Sir William Birdwood asked to have the beach-head evacuated.

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The Royal Navy argued that such an evacuation, particularly under fire, was impractical.   So Birdwood was ordered to stay, with the advice given by General Sir Ian Hamilton to “dig, dig, dig!”.  It is from this message, many conclude, that the ANZACs became known as the “diggers”.    Despite herculean efforts and near-suicidal courage, including the tragically costly landings at Sulva Bay in August of 1915, the stalemate was never broken.  Unable to advance, with no evacuation possible, the ANZACs remained locked in their initial positions, enduring conditions even more horrendous than those on the Western Front, until finally pulled out as a part of the general evacuation of the Gallipoli Operation in December of 1915.

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ANZAC Day has become a day of remembrance for all Australian and New Zealand war dead, but remains especially poignant for the nearly 13,000 Australian and New Zealand soldiers who gave their lives in the foothills of the Bari Sair Mountains, in the eight months of hell on Earth that was Anzac Cove.

At the going down of the sun,

and in the morning,

we will remember them.

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

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

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

And:

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

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

Lind also identifies what he calls “structural failings”:

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

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

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

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

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

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General Carl E. Mundy, Jr, 30th Marine Commandant, Dead at 78

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Very sad news that General Carl Mundy, the 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps, passed away on Wednesday in Alexandria, VA.   General Mundy’s career was long and distinguished, beginning with his enlistment in the Marine Reserves in 1953, where he would rise to be a Sergeant Squad Leader.

Commissioned out of Auburn University, General Mundy served two tours in Vietnam, one as OpsO and XO of 3/26, and the other with III Marine Amphibious Force.  Following his service in Southeast Asia, General Mundy commanded the Second Marines, and then 2nd Marine Division, and eventually II MEF at Camp Lejeune, NC.

General Mundy served as the 30th Commandant of the Marine Corps from July 1991 to June 1995.  General Mundy was also a plain-spoken man.  And as such, has always been a hero of mine.  He had the backbone to stand up to the Diversity Tyrants, and to try and do what was best for the Corps rather than his career.  The infamous “60 Minutes” hack job that was as dishonest as the Westmoreland piece and the George W. Bush service record fabrication portrayed Mundy’s remarks as being something other than what they were.  General Mundy had criticized the racial quota approach to recruitment of Marine Officers, rightly pointing out that simply taking in men and women based on skin color, without regard to intelligence and aptitude, did them and the Corps a disservice.  He correctly observed that those accessed with below-average intelligence and aptitude were at a severe disadvantage and did not do as well with marksmanship, land navigation, and other skills.  Mundy apologized for any offense that the edited remarks may have caused, but never backed off from his premise, which infuriated the Diversity advocates.

Later, General Mundy ordered the eventual elimination of recruiting quotas for married Marines, again rightly pointing out that first-term non-rate Marines with wives and children had a much higher proportion of problems because of low pay and long hours, and the effects were deleterious to readiness and morale.  Mundy was ordered to rescind that guidance, but again remained unwilling to revise his views.

I had the privilege to serve with General Mundy’s son Carl E. “Sam” Mundy III, at Parris Island.  He was a superb Officer who rightly admired and emulated his Dad.  Carl E. Mundy III is now a Brigadier General, I believe.    General Mundy’s legacy to the Marine Corps remains with us almost twenty years later.  He was a warrior who believed in the warrior ethos.  And was unwilling to compromise those beliefs for political expediency.

But for other senior Officers in all the services to take a lesson from General Mundy.

Farewell, General.  30th Commandant, departing.  Marines from every age who guard Heaven’s streets will present arms.

 

 

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U-T San Diego: Ramadi Remembered

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Ramadi remembered

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

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

U-T San Diego has the story.

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

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

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

Semper Fidelis, Marines.

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Filed under army, history, iraq, marines, navy, Personal, Uncategorized, veterans, war

Hidden Treasure

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It can be found in the most unlikely of places.  This haul of pure naval gold came from the little book library that I found next to the gift shop aboard USS Midway in my sojourn to San Diego for the West Conference.  I saw a sign for “book sale”, which, except for “free ammo”, is most likely to make me stop every time.  I was allowed to go into the spaces that had the books for sale, and found this’n.  I decided to have a little fun with the docent who was running the sale.  When I asked “How much?”, he told me “Ten dollars.”  I worked up my most indignant expression, and said “TEN DOLLARS!  That’s highway robbery!  I won’t pay it!” at the same time I slipped a twenty to his elderly assistant, and gave him a wink.   He was a bit flummoxed, but the old fella gave me a smile.  I asked that they keep the change as a donation, which they were truly grateful for.

Anyway, inside the large, musty-smelling book that had likely not been opened in decades, there is to be found a veritable treasure of naval history.  From the advertisements at the beginning pages from famous firms such as Thornycroft, Hawker-Siddeley, Vickers-Amstrong Ship Repair and Shipbuilding, Bofors, Decca Radars, Edo Sonar, etc, to the line drawings of nearly every class of major combatant in commission in 1964, the book is simply fascinating.

What is first noticeable is that a great percentage of the world’s warships in 1964 still consisted of American and British-built vessels from the Second World War and the years immediately preceding.   Former Royal Navy aircraft carriers were the centerpieces of the navies of India, Canada, France, Holland, Australia (star-crossed Melbourne was a Colossus-class CV) and even Argentina and Brazil.   US-built ships comprise major units of almost every Western Bloc navy in 1964.  The ubiquitous Fletchers, of which nearly one hundred were transferred,  served worldwide, and remained the most powerful units of many Western navies into the 1990s.   But there were other classes, destroyer escorts, patrol frigates, minesweepers, and an untold number of LSTs, LCTs, LCIs, Liberty and Victory ships, tankers, and auxiliaries of all descriptions, under the flags of their new owners.   Half a dozen Brooklyn-class light cruisers went south in the 1950s, to the South American navies of Chile, Argentina, and Brazil.  (General Belgrano, sunk by a British torpedo in the Falklands War, was ex-USS Phoenix CL-46).  A surprising number of the pre-war Benson and Gleaves-class destroyers remained in naval inventories, including that of the United States Navy (35).   A large contingent of Balao and Gato-class diesel fleet subs also remained in service around the world, with images showing streamlined conning towers, and almost always sans the deck guns.

Nowhere is there a ship profile of a battleship.  By 1964, Britain had scrapped the King George Vs, and beautiful HMS Vanguard.   France had decommissioned Jean Bart, and though Richelieu was supposedly not decommissioned until 1967, she is not included.  The United States had disposed of the North Carolinas and the South Dakotas some years before, and only the four Iowas remained.  They are listed in the front of the US Navy section, but not as commissioned warships, and they are also not featured.   Turkey’s ancient Yavuz, the ex-German World War I battlecruiser Goeben, had not yet been scrapped (it would be in 1971), but apparently was awaiting disposal and not in commission.

The 1964-65 edition of Jane’s contains some really interesting pictures and facts. And definitely some oddities.

There is a launching photo for USS America (CV-66), and “artist’s conceptions” of the Brooke and Knox-class frigates, which were then rated as destroyer escorts.  In 1964, the largest warship in the Taiwanese Navy (Republic of China) was an ex-Japanese destroyer that had been re-armed with US 5″/38 open single mounts in the late 1950s.  The People’s Republic of China also had at least one ex-Japanese destroyer in service, along with the half-sisters to the ill-fated USS Panay, formerly USS Guam and USS Tutulia, which had been captured by the Japanese in 1941 and turned over to China at the end of the war.  The PRC also retained at least one river gunboat which had been built at the turn of the century.

Italy’s navy included two wartime-construction (1943) destroyers that had been badly damaged, repaired, and commissioned in the late 1940s.  The eye-catching feature of the photos of the San Giorgios is the Mk 38 5″/38 twin mountings of the type mounted on the US Sumners and Gearings.

A couple other oddities that I never would have known but for this book.  In the 1950s, West Germany salvaged one Type XXI and two Type XXIII U-boats, sunk in the Baltic in 1945, reconditioned them, and commissioned them.  While the Type XXI was an experimentation platform, apparently the two Type XXIII boats (ex-U-2365 and U-2367) became operational boats.    The Israeli frigate Haifa had been a British wartime Hunt-class frigate, sold to the Egyptian Navy, and captured by Israeli forces in Haifa in the 1956 war.

The Indian Navy was made up largely of ex-Royal Navy warships, understandably enough.  But one in 1964 was particularly significant.  The Indian light cruiser Delhi had been HMS Achilles, famous for its role as a unit of Commodore Harwood’s squadron in chasing the German panzerschiff KMS Graf Spee in the Battle of the River Plate in December, 1939.

There is much more contained in the pages of this old and forgotten edition.  This book is an absolute treasure trove of naval history.   And was a most unexpected find.    I have unleashed my inner geek!

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Filed under armor, Artillery, China, Defense, guns, history, Iran, israel, logistics, navy, Personal, Splodey, veterans, war

MORE Things That Make You Go “Hmmmmmmmmmm”

iran-coup

This little tidbit managed to elude the American press.  The SAME American press that can tell you nothing about Benghazi, but everything about the George Washington Bridge scandal, nothing about Barack Obama’s college transcripts, but everything about George W. Bush’s military service (even if they have to make it up.)

From Iran’s Fars News Agency, via Drudge, these statements from Brigadier General Hossein Salami of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps:

“Today, we can destroy every spot which is under the Zionist regime’s control with any volume of fire power (that we want) right from here,” Salami said, addressing a conference in Tehran on Tuesday dubbed ‘the Islamic World’s Role in the Geometry of the World Power’.

“Islam has given us this wish, capacity and power to destroy the Zionist regime so that our hands will remain on the trigger from 1,400km away for the day when such an incident (confrontation with Israel) takes place,” he added.

Well, given by Islam and Barack Obama.  I am sure the General doesn’t MEAN anything by it.   It isn’t like he has the ear of the Supreme Leader or anything.   And I am certain that Iran is bargaining for uranium enrichment in good faith.  The Israelis?  They’re just paranoid.

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Things That Make You Go “Hmmmmmmmmmm”

An Iranian graduate student at Georgia Tech has an apartment with a bunch of Molotov Cocktails in it.  He manages to explode one, burning himself, and dies of his burns.   What’s the FBI’s take?  The same FBI that identified white males who are Veterans who believe in God and the Second Amendment as likely terrorists?   From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution via Creeping Sharia:

“The FBI has relayed that, to date, they have not developed any information or evidence indicating criminal intent in this investigation.”

Some damned fine law enforcement work there, boys.  Didn’t you fellas handle the Benghazi Consulate “crime scene”, too?

Investigators determined that Akhshabi was not a threat to the Georgia Tech community, Connolly said.

Well, not after he burned himself so badly, no.  And especially not after he died.  But before that?  I dunno, Chief.  I think you need to get your money back from that on-line detective course.

Any theories about why an Iranian military-age man would be building bombs in his apartment?   I may be somewhat obtuse, but I would also require an explanation as to how that does not really constitute evidence indicating criminal intent.   Especially when the State of Connecticut is making newly minted felons of legal firearms owners by passing unconstitutional laws against AR-15s and other rifles.

As the folks at Creeping Sharia point out, Iranians with no terror ties show up in the darnedest of places.  

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Filed under history, Iran, islam, Politics, Splodey, stupid, Uncategorized, veterans, war

Hey Marines! Roll ‘Em Up!

iron mike

USMC recruiting

One of the very first things our first aviator Commandant did was to change what had been a century-long tradition of rolling sleeves up on the Marine utility uniform.  Summer, winter, Desert or Woodland MARPAT, sleeves would be worn down, IAW the “YEAR ROUND WEAR OF THE MARINE CORPS COMBAT UTILITY UNIFORM” guidance.  The regulation eliminated what had been a distinguishing feature of Marines when wearing utilities, the rolled sleeve.  Supposedly, it was to show “solidarity” with deployed Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan.  If you are waiting at Camp Pendleton or 29 Palms for your next turn over, I doubt rolling your sleeves down is quite the act of “solidarity”.

The measure was met with universal disapproval,  and was the first in a long series of missteps and poor decisions on the part of General Amos.  But, it seems, that decision was undone a couple weeks ago.  Behold, MARADMIN 078/14

R 260149Z FEB 14
UNCLASSIFIED/
MARADMIN 078/14
MSGID/GENADMIN,USMTF,2007/CMC WASHINGTON DC DMCS(UC)/F002//
SUBJ/MARINE CORPS COMBAT UTILITY UNIFORM POLICY CHANGE//
REF/A/MARADMIN/181719ZOCT11//
REF/B/MSGID:DOC/CMC WASHINGTON DC MCUB/31MAR2003//
AMPN/REF A ANNOUNCED YEAR ROUND WEAR OF THE MARINE CORPS COMBAT UTILITY UNIFORM (MCCUU) WITH SLEEVES DOWN.  REF B IS MCO P1020.34G, MARINE CORPS UNIFORM REGULATIONS//
POC/M. BOYT/CIV/UNIT:MCUB/-/TEL:(703) 432-3333/TEL:DSN 378-3333/EMAIL:MARY.BOYT(AT)USMC.MIL//
GENTEXT/REMARKS/1.  THIS MARADMIN ANNOUNCES THE COMMANDANT’S DECISION TO CANCEL REF A AND REVERT TO PREVIOUS POLICY FOR WEAR OF THE MCCUU.
2.  EFFECTIVE 09 MARCH 2014, THE DESERT MCCUU WILL BE WORN DURING THE SUMMER UNIFORM PERIOD WITH THE SLEEVES ROLLED UP.  AT LOCAL COMMANDERS’ DIRECTION (BN/SQDN), SLEEVES WILL CONTINUE TO BE ROLLED DOWN IN COMBAT AND FIELD ENVIRONMENTS.  DURING THE WINTER UNIFORM PERIOD, THE WOODLAND MCCUU WILL CONTINUE TO BE WORN WITH SLEEVES DOWN.
3.  REF B WILL BE UPDATED TO REFLECT THIS CHANGE.
4.  RELEASE AUTHORIZED BY MAJGEN M. R. REGNER, STAFF DIRECTOR, HEADQUARTERS MARINE CORPS.//

So, Marines, get thee to the gym or the pull-up bar and get those biceps and triceps HUGE!  Everybody knows that peace is gained and maintained by upper body strength!

sleeves

You have a chance to look bad-ass once again.  Make the most of it!

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