Congrats to CPT Cudd on earning her EFMB

The Expert Field Medical Badge is the medical equivalent of the Expert Infantry Badge.  Recently, a video has been making the rounds of CPT Cudd finishing the final event of the week long challenge- the 12 mile road march.

The EFMB isn’t easy. In fact, I’d say it is harder to earn than the EIB. Having said that, while CPT Cudd did in fact meet the minimum standards, the video is just embarrassing. Absent an injury or illness, no company grade officer in any branch should struggle that much at the end of a 12 miler. It just isn’t that tough.

You know what we called a 12 mile road march in The Wolfhounds?


Every week we did a 12 miler. And our packs were a heck of a lot more than the 35 pound pack specified for EFMB/EIB. And we did it in the same standard three hour period. As an added bonus, the route we used was actually 13 miles.

You know who has impressed me so far? The women who made it through the first week of Ranger School.



Please quit losing your mind over Jade Helm 15.

Probably 95% of people who have heard about Exercise Jade Helm taking place in their communities understand and support it, or, if they do have issues, they relate to genuine, if misplaced concerns, such as noise and other possible disruptions to their daily lives. Fair enough. But you  cannot look for basic information on the exercise without dozens, hundreds of “experts” telling you that JH15 is simply a pretext for martial law, seizing guns, and rounding up “patriots” in reeducation and concentration camps.

Brad Taylor took the trouble of writing up this issue, so I don’t have to:

I grew up in East Texas, running around the woods, camping, hunting and generally getting into trouble. I haven’t been home in a while due to twenty-plus years in the military and now living in South Carolina, but I still have family there. From what they’re telling me, something has clearly changed from my childhood days. Jade Helm, a USASOC Realistic Military Training event, is coming to certain Texas locales, and the population is losing its mind over “sinister” implications. FEMA concentration camps, UN gun-grabbers, and anything else that can be extrapolated, has been. Why? I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out why this exercise has generated such controversy, as it’s truly confusing. How can a state that breaks its arm trying to congratulate veterans, that declared a Chris Kyle day, assume that those same service members they’ve been cheering in the Dallas Airport are now out to enslave the entire state? Truthfully, that’s what really burns me. The men who planned the exercise, and the men who will execute the exercise, are me. Texas, the land I grew up in, is basically saying I – and the men I served with – are willingly planning to round them up and put them into concentration camps. Why? How has the Internet been able to leverage such unfounded paranoia? When did we go from supporting the troops to denigrating them as oppressors?

Let me add this- if the Special Forces community suddenly wanted to confiscate your guns, set up reeducation and concentration camps, and otherwise impose martial law, would they announce their plans in advance? Would they send a contact team to EVERY county and municipality briefing them on when the exercise will take place?

Here’s a video of one such briefing. Of course, the comments section is nuttier than a Snickers production line.

Jade Helm is simply Robin Sage writ large. And North Carolina somehow hasn’t fallen under the sway of martial law, in spite of some 60 years of hosting off post exercises. Maybe SF is just really bad at martial law.


I normally don’t like to send you, dear reader, to the nuttier corners of the internet. They don’t really deserve the traffic. But this is the kind of crap that is out there:

Katy Whelan serves as the medical advisor and reporter for The Common Sense Show. As such, she is privy to much of the information on topics which we have not yet published for one reason or another. With regard to Jade Helm 15, Katy has had access to some of the most sensitive information that is in our possession. Therefore, when Katy decides to assert herself in the field by confronting an official about Jade Helm, she can do so with an air of authority.

This past weekend, Katy had occasion to confront a Lt. Colonel Gallegos in a chance public meeting and the following represents the summary of her encounter.

“On Saturday April 11, I (Katy Whelan) was coming out of a Denver area Restaurant and saw a National Guard officer in the parking lot and decided to stop and chat with him about the Jade Helm training drill going on across the country”.

“I introduced myself to a Lt Colonel Gallegos from Buckley Air Force base in Aurora, Colorado. Below is a summary of the exchange”.

Katy:  “I am aware of the Jade Helm drill and I am concerned as to why this drill was being conducted”.

Gallegos:  (He was caught off guard and didn’t have a clear answer as he stumbled around for words and his body language was extremely nervous). “We have had drills like this before, like one we had before one 10 years ago”.

Katy: “There has never been a drill to this extent in size and scope”!

Gallegos: (His body language, again, was extremely nervous as he stumbled to find the right words as he chose to look down, smile and concede that I was correct on that point). “Yeah, that is true but it’s not a big deal”. (Editor’s Note: Not a big deal? Various factions of the military are preparing to impose martial law in the Jade Helms drills while extracting dissidents, and death squads will be planted in order to practice their “infiltration techniques” and this is “not a big deal”? This is an act of war against the American people and it is not a big deal?).

Katy: “I know the Jade Helm15 drill is in over 30 states”.

Gallegos: (He became increasingly nervous) and asked “How did I know this (as if I should not have this information)”?
Katy: “Isn’t this a joint a joint military and national guard operation and doesn’t this violate posse comitatus”.

Gallegos:  “No, that is not true because the National Guard will be the only ones running the drills”.  (Editor’s note: This is a bold faced lie uttered by Lt. Col. Gallegos! On the original Jade Helm 15 document, Special Operations Forces state that the 82nd Airborne and Special Operations Forces such as the Green Berets, Navy Seals will be a part of the drill. Therefore, Gallegos knows what he is participating in is illegal and is not limited to the National Guard. We further know that the Department of Defense is hiring people to play the role of detainees and incarcerated Americans under martial law).

Katy: “Then why, if it is a joint operation, why would the National Guard have the authority to be the organization to be running the drill”?

Gallegos: (Like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar, the nervousness of the body language was peaking as he stumbled around looked down and was rubbing his keys nervously). Katy took that to mean that her challenging statement was true.
“But nothing illegal will be done in the drill”, muttered Gallegos. (Editor’s Note: Despite the fact that the forces of Jade Helm will be extracting people without due process of law, and Gallegos thinks there is nothing wrong with this?). 

Katy: “Our current administration is violating the US constitution every day, so how can you guarantee that the orders coming down would be any different”?

Gallegos: (Again, displaying nervous body language as exemplified by looking down to avoid contact and nervously smiling, he stated, “I assure you it would all be legal. The Governor would be in command of the drill as only the National Guard would be conducting the drills and I cannot say much more than that”. (Editor’s Note: Since the passage of the John Warner Defense bill, the civilian authority exercised by the National Guard was transferred from the Governor of a state to the President and we are supposed to believe that a Lt. Colonel in the National Guard would be ignorant to that fact?).

Katy: “Isn’t Jade Helm about the extraction drills? In other words, what does the military know that we don’t know to train for this type of operation?”

Gallegos: (He further displayed more nervous body language to an incredible degree as he became increasingly and nervously evasive). “I assure you that it is all on the up and up and legal”.

Katy: “If there was an illegal order that came down from the chain of command, what would you do”?

Gallegos: “That would be up to the individual to decide”.
Katy: She pressed the point and again asked “Why would we need an extraction drill and what are they specifically training for?

Gallegos: He remained evasive and said “it is all legal”.

Yeah, random weird people coming up and ambush interrogating some Guard LTC at lunch.

He was caught off guard and didn’t have a clear answer as he stumbled around for words and his body language was extremely nervous).

No kidding. I’d be a little nervous too. Weird people tend to have that effect on me.

The chances this guy knows any more about JH 15 than he’s seen in a newspaper headline are virtually zip. Here’s a little secret. People in the Army, even Lieutenant Colonels, don’t know what every other element of the Army is doing at any given time. That’s because we’re paying them good money to focus on what their unit is doing.



Movement to Contact

One of the key battlefield tasks is avoiding being surprised by the enemy. The way to do that is to maintain contact with him. If contact is lost, it should be reestablished as soon as practical.

The way to do this is known as Movement to Contact. As the video explains, this is an offensive task. In effect, it’s something like a hasty attack, except you don’t really know where you’ll be conducting the attack.

Mind you, careful analysis of the terrain, and a fair appreciation of the enemy order of battle can often give you a pretty good idea where contact is likely. 

A doctrinal  here- to fix an enemy is to place sufficient fires upon him as to preclude him from either disengaging, or maneuvering.

While the video is geared toward the Combined Arms Battalion, Movement to Contact is a mission that can be conducted by light forces as well. Indeed, even Attack Aviation does it. The tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) differ somewhat, but the fundamentals are the same.

1 Comment

Filed under armor, army, ARMY TRAINING, Around the web

Spartan Pegasus- Airborne Ops in the Great White North

Of my basic training platoon at Ft. Benning, maybe half of us received orders overseas. About half of those went to Germany. The rest of us were split fairly evenly between Hawaii (where I went) and Alaska.

I remember laughing at one fellow receiving orders to Alaska, and was a tad surprised to learn he was delighted with the orders. Me? I don’t do well with cold. But some folks do.

Since World War II, the US Army has mantained a significant presence in Alaska. Among the nice things about it, there is plenty of space for training. Of course, the weather and terrain means that the units there are somewhat uniquely equipped.

I’m guessing the troops are from 3-509PIR, but I don’t know that for sure. The funny looking little vehicle in the heavy drop is an M973 Small Unit Support Vehicle, basically a BV206.



The Battle Against Booze

Carl Forsling has a piece in Task & Purpose lamenting the unrelenting war on booze in the services.

Every so often after work, I stop by the officers’ club at my base to see what’s going on. Without fail, unless I go to meet up with specific people or there’s a special event, the place is deader than Elvis. I’ll wave at the bartender and awkwardly look around as if I’m looking for someone, then make a quick about face.

With few exceptions, this is the way most military clubs are. They do a decent lunch business. Some enlisted clubs bring in decent numbers with pool and sports television, but none are eagerly anticipated social venues at the end of a long week. On some bases, there’s so little business that all the clubs have been combined to make what must be the most awkward social scenario possible.

So what? There are a million other places to buy beer. Why should the military club be sacred?

Josephus Daniels banned booze on US Navy ships in 1916. With a few very rare exceptions that holds true today. And General Order Number One for US troops deployed to Afghanistan, and before that, in Iraq, prohibited the possession and consumption of alcohol. And for the most part, I’m fairly OK with that.

Of course, contrast that the the US  ration in World War II, which, while honored more in the breach than actually being adhered to, called for two bottles of 3.2 beer per man per day, at least when not in combat.

By the time I joined in the mid 1980s, the services were already cracking down on DUIs and problem drinkers in the ranks. Any time you have a population of young people, especially young men, you’ll have a percentage that are simply bound to become alcoholics.

My first duty station was Hawaii. The drinking age when I arrived was 18. I was 19. But Hawaii raised its drinking age to 21, with no grandfather clause. There were a handful of establishments downtown that pretty much ignored the law and served under 21. And at then Wheeler AFB next door to my base, the NCO club was open to E-4 and above, and the base commander had established 18 as the drinking age.* Not surprisingly, my compatriots and I went to Wheeler fairly often. And while technically the drinking age on my post was 21, our chain of command never raised an eyebrow at troops actually in the barracks drinking underage, so long as they weren’t disruptive or otherwise disciplinary problems, or showing up for duty drunk. Think of it as Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell for alcohol.

When I was in Germany, of course, the drinking age was 16 or so. At any rate, if you were old enough to be in the Army, you were old enough to drink, legally. There were annoying restrictions on the amount of alcohol you could have in the barracks. One greatly annoying restriction was that most commanders prohibited the possession of hard alcohol in the barracks. Which, I prefer whiskey to beer, and always have. And right there on my ration card was an allowance for up to five bottles of hootch per month!

And when we went to Grafenwoerhr for  gunnery, most nights, we’d return to our cantonment huts in time for dinner. After dinner, the mess hall would sell good German beer, up to two bottles per man, with proceeds going to the unit Morale, Welfare and Recreation fund.

That’s to say nothing of the once vibrant Officer’s Open Mess (O’Club) at NAS Whidbey where I grew up. To say the junior officers there might have had a bit of fun on the bar would be an understatement.

But today, the Carrie Nation neo-prohibitionists have won. The mere thought of allowing, much less providing, alcohol at a command sponsored event makes some commanders tremble in fear. If your unit has a unfortunate string of alcohol related incidents, your chances of promotion and future command are in doubt. As Forsling notes:

…a few guys crapped their pants and now the whole military wears diapers.

To flash back to my first unit, in Hawaii, every Friday afternoon, after the close of business, and having been released for the day, my First Sergeant would sit on the back lanai with a case of beer on ice in a cooler. We were welcome to walk up, grab a can, and shoot the breeze, listening like eager pups to the old dog tell tales of Vietnam. Doctrine Man has a great post on mentoring over a cup of coffee. This was mentoring over a beer. More than just war stories were told. The love of the service, tales of good leadership and bad, hints for life and other wisdom was shared in an environment that, while military courtesy was still strictly observed, was far more relaxed than during the duty day. I probably learned more on the back lanai over a can of Budweiser than I ever did from any NCO Professional Development breakout session


*State drinking age laws technically don’t apply on federal installations. Instead, post commanders issue a punitive policy. Almost universally that policy limits the drinking age to that of the locality where the post is located, but I have seen exceptions.



XBoX and the Obstacle Breach

One of the most difficult tasks an armored force can face is breaching an obstacle.

Obstacles on the mechanized battlefield typically consist of an anti-tank ditch, concertina wire, and one or more minefields. Obstacles themselves aren’t expected to stop a force. Instead, they are intended to delay a force.* That imposed delay tends to leave the attacker bunched up, and vulnerable to the defenders fires, both direct and indirect.

Not surprisingly, the US Army has published quite a bit of doctrine on just how to breach such an obstacle. Also not surprisingly, for many years every brigade that went through the National Training Center at Ft. Irwin performed at least one obstacle breach mission, and usually more than one.

The problem is, it is hard to learn the complexities of a mounted breach just by reading a book, and it’s expensive as heck to get the entire brigade (or BCT today) out in the field to practice.

The Army way of learning is often described as crawl/walk/run. Crawl might be standing in a field with the manual in your hands and simply walking through the steps of a task on a very reduced scale. Walk then becomes doing it on a full scale, mounted, but at a leisurely pace, and against no opposition. Run, of course, would be the full up, full scale, full speed exercise.

The Army’s Training and Doctrine Command has established a small cell to produce training video.  The graphics are produced on a variant of XBoX games, and are used to recreate various battles or training tasks. And one of them is the Obstacle Breach.

Obviously, a 2o minute video won’t replace actually reading the manuals and then going out and practicing. But it does give a decent visualization of what the discussion is about. As a supplement to to the various training aids available, it can help ensure that time and resources are not wasted in later stages of training.

H/T to :



*Actually, they are also often intended to turn a force (as in seek another avenue of movement), or channelize them on terrain of the defenders choice.


Filed under ARMY TRAINING, doctrine

Make. A. Damn. Decision.

BJ Armstrong has, among other writings, a nice little piece on Admiral William Sims over at USNI Blog, which includes this wonderful snippet:

Sims had the ability, essential to a naval officer, of making decisions and making them quickly if necessary. He expected the same of those under him. There are several versions of a story which illustrates this characteristic. The captain of a destroyer on his way from Newport to Charleston sent this dispatch to Sims, whose flagship was anchored in Chesapeake Bay. “My starboard engine is disabled, shall I continue to Charleston under one engine or put in to Lynnhaven Roads and effect repairs?” Promptly came the answer from Sims, “Yes.” The puzzled skipper sent another dispatch saying he did not understand and repeated his original query. This time, equally promptly came the reply, “No.” I once intercepted a message from Sims to one of his destroyer captains tersely instructing the officer, “Don’t ask questions, act.”

One of the most difficult things to instill in a leader is decisiveness. Much is written about the need for leaders to inspire teams, and establish goals and build consensus and whatnot. And those are indeed facets of leadership. But one key task a leader must execute is to simply make a decision.

Make. A. Damn. Decision.

That’s not to say that decisions should be made rashly. As in so much else, the Army has a process to support decision making, named, rather unimaginatively The Military Decision Making Process.

Copy/Pasta from Wiki:

  1. Receipt of Mission
  2. Mission Analysis
  3. Course of action (COA) Development
  4. COA Analysis (aka Wargaming)
  5. COA Comparison
  6. COA Approval
  7. Orders Production

That seems simple enough. You receive a mission from your higher headquarters, figure out what it is exactly you are to accomplish, and kick around different possible ways to accomplish the mission. Decide which plan to go with, then put the word out to everyone how to go about it.

Ah… if only…

One of the possible traps of MDMP may be familiar to many outside the military- paralysis by analysis. It’s very easy for staffs and commanders to focus on the Process part of MDMP and forget the whole point is the Decision part.

Another problem is, some people are simply afraid to commit themselves to a course of action. Every decision has consequences, sometimes good, sometimes bad. Indeed, usually there are both good and bad consequences to making a decision. There is always a desire to gain one more piece of information, examine one more possible course of action. And so, they fail to decide. Which is a decision all its own.

Which brings us to this:

“By the spring of 2014, the ISIS captors, we’re told, felt so confident in their situation that there was very little visible security around the hostages. And by May, eight Western hostages were held together in one location,” Herridge said.

Via Ace.

There may well have been issues that argued against attempting a rescue of Ms. Mueller and the other hostages. Hostage rescue attempts are very high risk under the best of circumstances. But, at least in hindsight, the risks certainly are less than the near certainty of execution at the hands of Islamic fiends. One finds it difficult, especially in light of the dithering shown by Obama in authorizing the raid on the Bin Laden compound, to believe that Obama made a rational decision to not attempt a rescue, but instead simply made the default decision to do nothing.


Filed under ARMY TRAINING, history