Monday, September 30, 2013

Well, Maybe Ted Cruz Deserves a 2nd and 3rd Look

Always a good thing to judge a person, especially a Republican, by his enemies. Who he sets off - who can't stand them.

When the Left get deranged, half-cocked, personal and otherwise spastic - then you know you have them by the short-hairs.

They cannot argue the person's ideas - so they attack the person. Reagan & Thatcher were two perfect examples.

Check out this garden variety entitled North Carolina Democrat and NPR listener. Classic resident of probably somewhere in the Triangle between Durham, Raleigh, and the Peoples Republic of Chapel Hill.

Ramesh Ponnuru managed to give her the vapors. Fun to listen to. Ted Cruz derangement syndrome, indeed.

I've been listening to NPR for decades ... I think this lady has a bad case of selective listening.

It is almost as good written as spoken.
Yes, we’re calling from North Carolina having listened to your comments on NPR in the afternoon. And we were just quite stunned to hear you begin your comments with the comment, ‘I am a friend of Ted Cruz.’

Well, I can tell you in all the years that I have been listening to NPR, I’ve never heard any journalist begin commenting about an issue with the — making such a bold statement: They happen to be the friend of a particular politician.

And I just wanted to say that as far as I’m concerned, as a friend of Ted Cruz, this means that you are a friend of a severe narcissist and a vile liar and a terrorist. As far as we are personally concerned. He makes wild statements without any basis in fact such as ‘millions of Americans are being hurt by Obamacare.’ Really? Well, I would like to have specific identification of those millions and specifically how they are being harmed.

As far as I’m concerned, if I heard, if I turned on the television and I heard that he had been set on fire and thrown out of an airplane, I would not shed a tear. Also as far as I’m concerned, it appears that you are from another country and I highly suggest that you go back to that country and stir up trouble there instead of supporting terrorists in our Congress.

Thank you and goodbye.
So much yummy goodness there, from the multiple personality "we" to the wishing of painful death to those who you simply disagree with.

I think Chap used to date her.

Pirate Waters in a Picture

Via ControlRisks;

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Land Forces in the Pacific Pivot, on Midrats

What is the role of ground forces as the conversation revolves around the Air Sea Battle Concept?

Is an emphasis on air and sea power driving balanced thinking and sending the right messages to our friends and competitors?

Building off his article in the May 2013 Armed Forces Journal, Back To Reality, Why Land Power Trumps in the National Rebalance Towards Asia, our guest today from 5-6pm Eastern for the full hour will be Major Robert Chamberlain, USA.

Maj. Chamberlain has served two tours in Iraq (2003-4 and 2007-8), studied refugees at Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, and is currently finishing his dissertation in Political Science at Columbia. He teaches International Relations at the West Point and, of course, the views he is about to express are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of the United States Military Academy, the Army, or the Department of Defense.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

UPDATE: Towards the end of the show, Major Chamberlain had three book recommendations that you might find of interest.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Dude, when is the US release date?

The plot is an original script written by Ilya Tilkin who studied museum archives and diaries of the participants in the Stalingrad Battle before she wrote and finished her script. Original meant there were no novelistic sources used for the entire picture’s play-script.

The movie’s story revolves around German troops trying to take down a Stalingrad (Current name is Volgograd) residential building that was doggedly held out by a band of few Russian soldiers with a sole surviving female resident.

The plot line is based on the legends surrounding the Pavlov’s House, so named as it was a fortified apartment edifice which Russian Sergeant Yakov Pavlov along with his platoon who occupied the building defended during the Battle of Stalingrad.

The Russians get it 10 OCT, but any story derived from the story of Pavlov's house needs a showing here.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Spock, Mr. T, and a not so little Dutch boy walk in to a planning group ...

The kids over at CIMSEC made the mistake of asking me a question. I made the mistake of answering.

Check it out and tell me if I need my meds checked.

Fullbore Friday

There is a lot more here than simply one man with a gun. This is one man with a gun who had a choice, but he also had a culture, a history, and training.

You run to the sound of the guns. You are the sheepdog. You have a job to do.
Ex Royal Marine with a handgun saved 100 lives as terrorists ran amok
A former marine emerged as a hero of the Nairobi siege yesterday after he was credited with saving up to 100 lives.
The ex soldier was having coffee at the Westgate mall when it was attacked by Islamists on Saturday.
The former soldier is said to have returned to the building on a dozen occasions, despite intense gunfire.
A friend in Nairobi said: ‘What he did was so heroic. He was having coffee with friends when it happened.
‘He went back in 12 times and saved 100 people. Imagine going back in when you knew what was going on inside.’

Sources said the soldier was in the Royal Marine and now lives in Kenyan. He cannot be named for security reasons.
The British military regularly train and operate out of Kenya, and have been involved in tracking UK citizens involved with hardline Islamists in Somalia and Yemen.
Former members work with both the UK and Kenyan governments and security firms across East Africa.
There is a side-story here that we won't know, and probably shouldn't. Kenya's gun laws are as crazy as the UK's, so not just anyone can carry a sidearm. He had an interesting job, and he knew all that would be over if he acted.

But he acted.

Marine; well done and fullbore.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

"We're just moving up river, you said!"

MSC loses cool points in Jax starting tomorrow AM ....
The Mathews Bridge will be closed to traffic for at least four days due to structural damage from a ship under tow hitting the span.

Late Thursday afternoon, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office announced the bridge will be "closed indefinitely."

"This will be the most significant delay the city has seen in a long time," JSO Assistant Chief Leonard Propper said.
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

UPDATE Yea, kind of the maritime version of 11'8".

So, how is the Obama Doctrine working out?

After reading David Sanger's bit over at NYT, the one thing that came to mind is that Obama needs to call and apologize to GWB.

Making decisions is hard when your not doing it in hindsight.
His speech Tuesday at the United Nations signaled how what some have called the Obama Doctrine is once again evolving.

In his first term, that doctrine was defined by Mr. Obama’s surprising comfort in using military force to confront direct threats to the United States. But he split with his predecessor George W. Bush in his deep reluctance to use American power in long, drawn-out conflicts where national interests were remote and allies were missing.

At the United Nations on Tuesday, Mr. Obama drove home the conclusion that he came to after his own party deserted him over a military response to the chemical weapons attack that killed more than 1,000 Syrians: The bigger risk for the world in coming years is not that the United States will try to build empires abroad, he argued, but that there will be a price to be paid in chaos and disorder if Americans elect to stay home.
But his image around the world is radically different from what it once was. From South Asia to the Middle East, his presidency became known more for roughly 400 drone strikes against affiliates of Al Qaeda and cyberattacks on Iran’s nuclear program, both of which he saw as direct threats. Despite his early overtures, diplomacy in the region stagnated.

Now, after a remarkable month that began with his planning and then aborting a Tomahawk missile strike against the military facilities of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Mr. Obama has recommitted himself, he told world leaders on Tuesday, to devoting the rest of his presidency to two high-risk diplomatic initiatives: finding a negotiated end to the Iran confrontation, and creating a separate state for the Palestinians that Israel can live with, without fear.
There the stakes are far higher, for Mr. Obama and for his closest ally in the region, Israel, and he made it clear that he would not allow Iran to obtain a weapon on his watch. The question, after five years and several evolutions of the Obama Doctrine, is whether the Iranians believe him.
Presidents are allowed to evolve, but this team's Hamlet-like nature is growing a bit old.

I am very concerned about the penultimate paragraph quoted above. If the President is going to focus on Iran and the Palentinian-Israeli problem, then congrats - we are in the Carter Administration.

Those two problems will vex any President as, well, they are in a word; intractable.

The last paragraph of the quote is all his creation. He has destroyed his credibility with dithering and faux red lines. At this point, the only way to correct that problem is to do something the President isn't inclined by nature to do - and something the American public has no desire to undertake.

His best goal at this point is to under-promise and over-deliver in foreign policy and then see what happens. He really has lost his freedom of movement. Personal capital is about spent.

Best Advertisement for NROTC this Decade

I really hope that this was a case of being misunderstood. Seriously.
In the aftermath of the case, the academy has taken added steps to stop sexual assault. Capt. William Byrne, the commandant whose role is similar to that of a dean of students at a civilian college, told reporters last month about plans to make training to prevent sexual assault a part of the regular academic work day.
OK. Go to Annapolis and have sexual assault training as part of the academic work day. Every day? Every other day? Weekly?

OK high school girls and boys, how about this instead - if you have the option, just go NROTC. Take the scholarship, get a broader understand of the people you will serve, and enjoy being a young adult with a fully rounded college experience. You'll have better social skills in the end anyway.

Let's hope he was misquoted, otherwise SAPR training either jumped the shark, or Annapolis leadership is acting like the dogs from The Thing. Take your pick.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

And the King did say .....

Remember - the Dutch were on the leading edge of building the modern Welfare State.
“It is an undeniable reality that in today's network and information society people are both more assertive and more independent than in the past. This, combined with the need to reduce the budget deficit, means that the classical welfare state is slowly but surely evolving into a participation society. ... Achieving a 'prudent level of public debt' ... is and will remain crucial. ... If the debt grows and the interest rate rises, these payments will put more and more pressure on our economic growth, on the affordability of public services and on people's incomes. ... Unless we do something the budget deficit will remain too high. The shift towards a participation society is especially visible in our systems of social security and long-term care. In these areas in particular, the classical post-war welfare state produced schemes that are unsustainable in their present form and which no longer meet people's expectations.” 
- Willem-Alexander, King of The Netherlands, speech from the Throne, 17 September 2013.
If you think any of the programs or budget habits we have are sustainable, you are in a deep state of denial. We can fix them now and have a little pain, or fix them later and have a lot of pain.

Being that we won't have a new chief executive until 2017 and those priorities won't take effect until 2018 and won't impact things until 2019 and on, well ... there you go.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Power of Good Fiction

There is a reason you should read good books by smart people. There is also a reason why for any type of long term Red Hat exercise, you need fiction writers.
A report obtained by CBS 13 News says one of the men suspected of taking people hostage at a mall in Kenya is from Maine.

The report from a German magazine lists a man from Maine as one of 14 al-Shabab members who killed 68 people at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, and taking others hostage. As of 5:30 p.m. Sunday, most of the hostages had been freed.
Al-Shabab is a militant Somali group linked to Al-Qaeda. They have claimed responsibility for the attack that started Saturday at the upscale mall in Nairobi.
Sen. Angus King released a statement Sunday night saying, "It appears that a terrorist group based in Somalia has claimed responsibility for the horrendous killings this weekend in Kenya."

"According to news reports, this group has made attempts over the past several years to recruit from Somali refugee communities around the world, including England, Sweden, Russia, and the Middle East as well as in the US, in Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas, Arizona and Maine."
If you have followed my advice and read The Aden Effect: A Connor Stark Novel, you would have mumbled to yourself, "Of course."

If you are so inclined, you can hear our interview with the author, our friend Claude Berube, on Midrats here.

Your Required Boyd in the 1st Person

Alternative title: Lucien, might as well plan to get nothing done for awhile.

Big thanks to Timothy Kirk who posted these five years ago on youtube.

If you are running short of time, just go to the 2:30 point in the first video where he gives you hints on how to make and impact - in this case outlining the birth of the F-15.

All four videos together gives you about 32-minutes of an icon.

Monday, September 23, 2013

C.A.I.R. Proves Itself to be a Zionist Plot

When our dear friend Rusty put this up, I had trouble believing it. It must be a spoof. I've looked all over the place to see who is jackassing whom, but no - looks ligit.

I have not pinged on the German-American Bund, errrr, sorry, the Counsel on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) in awhile, and it looks like this may be our last chance.

CAIR has changed their name to the Washington Trust Foundation.

Yes, look at that again.
As the smart folks over at TheAmericanThinker say;


Coming Soon to a Mall Near You ...

In case you have not already internalized it for yourself, you need to do it now. I am actually shocked it has not happened already on a large scale. Right after 9/11 I talked about it with some folks, and over the years - though I don't think I have yet here - it comes up now and then. It is coming here sooner or later. It is just too tempting of a target not to.

What? Well, a Mall of America version of what you were reading about over the weekend.
Authorities in Kenya appeared close to ending a deadly siege early Monday at an upscale Nairobi mall, where attackers have killed at least 68 people, injured 175, and were believed to be holding about 30 people hostage.

"All efforts are underway to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion," the Kenyan military announced on Twitter.
It said that "most of the hostages have been rescued and security forces have taken control of most parts of the building."
Earlier, police had tweeted that a "MAJOR assault" by security forces was ongoing.

The developments come two days after Al-Shabaab militants first stormed the shopping center, spraying bullets and unleashing chaos.
There are believed to be between 10-15 gunmen involved in the attack, according to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Combined with the red-hat PSYOPS lessons-learned from attack on Boston & the Navy Yard, we have to expect that Islamic Terrorists have this CONOPS ready to go. All they need to do is to put it together with the right team.

That would be easier than you think.
The same group that claimed responsibility for an attack on a Kenyan mall this weekend that has claimed at least 68 lives has previously recruited dozens of Americans to join their cause.

U.S. officials estimate that as many as 50 Americans have traveled to training camps in Somalia, the home of the al Qaeda-linked terror group al-Shabaab, over the last six years.

Just last month, al-Shabaab released a video showing three young men claiming to be from Minneapolis who the terror group said later died as martyrs.

"This is the best place to be honestly," one of the men says. "I can only tell you from my experience being here, that you have the best of dreams, you eat the best of food, and you're with the best of the brothers and sisters who came here for the sake of Allah. If you guys only knew how much fun we have over here. This is the real Disneyland, you need to come here and join us and take pleasure in this fun."
American citizens who happen to be terrorists will use our freedoms, from speech, to religion, to association, to travel, to own firearms against us. They will challenge us to throw away what makes us Americans, which will be easy to do, instead of continuing to bring the war to them.

Sure, the usual suspects will go after guns, and then there will be increased surveillance, etc, etc, etc ... none of which will do anything but turn us towards less of a free nation.

Not only would such a strike get huge publicity and shock the core of the placid American citizenry, it will immediately cause Americans to turn on each other more than externalizing a response. Though examples are legion - the push to gun control after the Navy Yard was a perfect example, and that was an attack by a mad man.

What can we do? Well, for one - if your local mall is a "gun free zone" - then stay out of it. If they attack a sporting event? Union Station at rush hour? Heck, I don't know. There are plenty of security personnel in most of those places that would make it a hard target. These people are not looking for hard targets, they are looking for soft targets.

Malls like in Kenya. Schools like in Russia. That is what they are thinking about. It is, sadly, just part of our world now. From building a surveillance state to disarming citizens, plan now to stand up to the proto-authoritarians like Sen. Feinstein (D-CA), they are waiting, once again, for things to be "ripe."

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Post Military Pivot, on Midrats

When a few years turns in to many. When all of a sudden you seem to be the oldest guy in the room. When you have but days of memories of your kids and in the blink of an eye they are a year older - eventually everyone on active duty reaches the point where it is time to pack the sea bag one more time and put it in the attic.

It is time to retire or leave active duty. Better or worse - it is time to go.

What are the paths someone follows to reach that point? What decisions and inputs lead to that point where you say, "It's someone else turn."

What are the important things you learn in the process of leaving going out that you wish you knew earlier? What are the myths about transitioning to the civilian world - and what are the no-kidding hard truths?

How do you interact differently with the civilian world? What must someone leave behind, and what are those things that if you want them or not, they will always be with you?

To discuss this and more today, Sunday 22 SEPT from 5-6pm Eastern, on the subject of "what's next" when you leave active duty will be out panel with returning guest Commander James H. Ware, USN (Ret.)., and former active duty Sergeant Marcus Penn, USMC.

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Knowing Kong

Here is a follow-up to Thursday's post about the Orwellian sillyness at Annapolis over a poem, Kong Looks Back on His Tryout with the Bears, by William Trowbridge.

From, literally, "people pay good money for this stuff" file, Professor Bruce Fleming was kind enough to share with us how an English Professor teaches and explains a poem. Many thanks to him for agreeing to take the time to put it down and let me use it for a guest post.

The rest of the post is his. Professor Fleming; over to you.

First, a few words about poetry. It spooks a lot of people because they have bad memories of sitting passively while the high school teacher told them what its “deep meaning” was, but never explained how she got that (she was the expert so she didn’t have to). Anyway, they wanted to be playing ball or walking the mall. In fact, there isn’t “deep meaning” in most literature. Instead, if you pay attention you can figure out what it’s saying—and then ask yourself about the issues it helps you think about. That last part, the issues raised by what is on the page, isn’t deep meaning, it’s just reflection. But no, it’s not in the lines of the poem—it’s like ripples spreading out from it. Poetry has ripples a news story doesn’t. That’s the purpose of poetry, to get you to think about the big issues. It usually does that by telling a little story and then letting you realize that you have something in common with it.

I read this poem in a creative writing class, where the students write their own poems (and short stories, short plays etc). For us it’s like taking apart a complicated gizmo to see how it works so they can learn to construct gears and levers (words) in their own poems. I’ll put the poem itself in italics.

Kong Looks Back on His Tryout With the Bears

Titles are usually important. They’re the first thing you read and if they’re good titles they get your mind going in the right direction. This title tells you to stand by for a funny/odd poem, and a really American one. Plus it has a sort of “talking to your buds” tone. You have to get that Kong is “King Kong” of movie fame, but his name here is almost like a nickname, or the way a guy would shorten it. Kong. Short and sweet. And you have to get that Bears are football. That establishes the tone: guys, classic movies, and football.

If it had worked out, I'd be on a train to Green Bay, 
not crawling up this building with the air corps 
on my ass.  And if it weren't for love, I'd drop 
this shrieking little bimbo sixty stories 
and let them take me back to the exhibit, 
let them teach me to rumba and do imitations.

This gives us a lot of information. First, that “it” (his tryout) didn’t work out. And we know where he is, just as in the famous final scene of the movie: at the top of the Empire State Building. (Army) air corps is pre-Air Force lingo, of course, a nice reference to the original movie with biplanes. (It was remade with Jessica Lange. Nah.) He talks like a football player too, assuming we know where Green Bay is and why he’d be going there. He calls the tiny female he’s carrying (remember the movie) a “bimbo”—30s slang, and not complimentary; clearly her “shrieking” is getting on his nerves--and talks about his own “ass.” It’s bitter guy talk. What he’s most bitter about is that he’s totally controlled by his feelings for the “bimbo”! He wants to give up now, but he’s still driven by “love” so he can’t. That’s the silly aspect of the movie, and the poem: the notion that a creature could feel anything (love? Lust?) for something he can fit in the palm of his hand. But it’s also true to our lives, not just his: sometimes we’re controlled by a mixture of lust and love that defies all rationality. Kong knows he’s controlled, but he can’t do anything about it. At this point he’s so demoralized he would even accept the humiliation of being on display, doing a dance (football players don’t usually dance) or even worse, imitations. So we want the story of why it didn’t work out.

By the way, we can tell this poem lacks regular meter and rhyme—as most twentieth-century lyric poetry does. That means it has to pay attention to grouping the words on the line so that they sound good together or create a slight hitch as the line ends in white space—as in “air corps” before the growl of “on my ass” and “drop” at the end of a line so you sort of see the empty air he’d drop her in. (I spend more time on this in class.)

The story here is pretty straightforward.

They tried me on the offensive line, 
told me to take out the right cornerback for Nagurski. 
Eager to please, I wadded up the whole secondary, 
then stomped the line, then the bench and locker room, 
then the east end of town, to the river.

(Note that the lines end with each forceful assault here rather than breaking off like the lines above them, like waves on a beach.) If you don’t know who Bronco Nagurski was, no problem: in the poem it’s clearly a reference (remember the other period references) to a historical great. Everybody gets that, and that’s really all you have to get. Sometimes readers beat themselves up about references when they shouldn’t: you can usually get the gist from context and look up the footnotes later if you feel like it. So it’s real football with real people. That may help us think about it makes more sense to imagine King Kong being recruited to play football rather than, say, baseball. It’s pretty clear why the scouts would have been salivating over him: he’s huge. And strong. Real football material! Could punch through any opposition! So it seems to us, and clearly to Kong as well as the scouts, that his strength and his aggression are going to stand him in good stead. He’s getting strokes for being so, we have to say it: masculine. Athletes, especially males, compliment each other by saying they’re “animals” or “beasts.” For guys in the weight room, saying somebody is “huge” or “freaky huge” is the highest compliment. So we can see why Kong was recruited. He’s what a lot of men aspire to be. What we don’t know is what could have gone wrong. That’s why we have to keep reading.

But they were not pleased: they said I had to 
learn my position, become a team player.

He’s “eager to please”—he may be a brute but he’s a nice guy and he’s giving it his all. And he has no idea why “they were not pleased.” He did what was expected of him, right? He was a beast! The problem is, and this is what makes us think—he was too much of one. Huge is good, aggression is good—only wait! Not that huge! Not that aggressive! I’ve heard Marines talk this way: society trains them to kill and then gets upset if they break a rule. A lot of men, especially these days, feel something like Kong’s bafflement about society’s expectations for them. And it starts early: little boys get dinged in elementary school because they don’t want to sit still, and far too many teenaged boys drop out when they hit puberty. Girls make better students. And men are the ones getting laid off in the recession, with stereotypical male jobs in heavy industry manufacturing being the first to disappear. (An interesting book by Atlantic writer Hannah Rosin of a couple years ago was called “The End of Men” for that reason.) It’s a baffling time for many males, not just Kong.

But bless his heart, he tries. He tries to be a team player.

The great father Bear himself said that, 
so I tried hard to know the right numbers 
and how the arrows slanted toward the little o's.

He’s very male, and brimming with hormones. So of course by this point, things are getting somewhat sexual. Arrows, o’s…and it’s distracting him. Yes, they’re what’s on the play diagrams. But here they are also wink-wink sexual, like a teenager’s dirty joke. Then the joke gets more elaborate, with “wet grass” (reminds you of…) and grunts (reminds you of…):

But the o's and the wet grass and the grunts 
drowned out the count, and the tight little cheers 
drew my arrow straight into the stands, 
and the wives tasted like flowers and raw fish.

Ok, get it? Drew his arrow? Yeah, as in the play, but things are clearly somehow sexual and in any case are going seriously haywire here. Only remember, these are women about the size of a grasshopper to us. He can’t have sex with them, not in our way. So what does he do? He eats them! (Never mind that real great apes are vegetarians.) He eats them, as in chomps them up. But, um, that “raw fish”—yeah, it’s a common comparison for part of the female anatomy—it’s made a little nicer with the “flowers”. So it’s literal (imagined) eating with a sexual echo. Too complex? Nah. Of course he can’t have sex with creatures that are large enough to fit in his hand, but clearly the idea is that he’s having a lot of sexual feelings that just lead to mayhem.

So it hasn’t worked with guys, because he’s too brutal, and it hasn’t worked with females for the same reason—this is from a creature who the scouts thought would be perfect.

So I was put on waivers right after camp, 
and here I am, panty sniffer, about to die a clown, 
who once opened a hole you could drive Nebraska through.

He’s literally a panty sniffer (in the original movie he takes off Fay Wray’s clothes, a scene that was expurgated but that you can sometimes see on YouTube). And he’s disgusted with himself. He was once a muscular beast stomping down the opposition, part of the wholesome Midwest (he made a hole you could drive a large Midwestern state through—very big! And driving something big through a hole is, um, rather sexual too…) and all he can do with the female is sniff her panties and about to die a clown. He has all this power and he can’t do a damn thing with it.

How can he die such a shameful death (clown, panty-sniffer) because of being too much of a stud, as we say at Annapolis? (The female form of this word is “studette.”) That’s the part we’re supposed to think about. Because poems are read by people, not giant apes. So if his story doesn’t have any relevance for us, we don’t have to bother about it. So usually you can see the connection if you say, what do some people have in common with Kong?

Kong was praised for what? For being large and aggressive. Apparently he seemed fabulous to the scouts. And he’s puzzled by the demand that he play well with others. If boys are lucky they get the aggression channeled—sometimes literally into football. They learn to play with others. And how about this opposite sex business? A lot of guys just want to bro out—it’s far easier than learning the rituals of dating or the fact that women have different kinds of needs than the bros.

A lot of men have felt the frustration of Kong without of course being so exaggeratedly out of sync with the demands of society. But many men still dream of breaking the bonds. Miss Watson in Huckleberry Finn wanted to “civilize” him while Huck just wanted to live in the woods. Adventure stories for boys are all about living on your own. Fantasy movies for adults are all about killer studs that lay waste to the bad guys, blow up buildings, against all rules of how we’re supposed to behave, and don’t even have to be nice to the women, because the women find them irresistible and come after them. Most males accept being “civilized.” Some even like it. But we live our fantasy lives through football or movies, yearning to be the huge guy who never dies and who wipes out the opposition.

Reality, um, isn’t that way. It’s diapers and the dry cleaners, and remembering to take your lunch or grade your papers. Or write your FITREPS. This poem could be taken as a warning: an acknowledgment that many males would like to be Kong, huge and invincible. But the fact is, society is based on people getting along. Which means you can’t be too much of a stud. Freud thought that the repression of instinct that society demanded made us all frustrated. The Marine Corps gets its recruits from people, largely male, who want to escape those constraints if only for a time (what they don’t know is that there are new constraints). If the world were all Rambos, we’d all kill each other, Hobbes’s world of “all against all.”

The poem leaves us realizing that the dream of exercising unlimited dominion over the world, annihilating the men and consuming the women, is one many men, in particular, find attractive. But it’s only a dream.

So how can men preserve their masculinity in a world that wants to “civilize” them?

There is a fictional character who provides an answer. It’s not Rambo or Kong, but—Bond. James Bond. The stud in a tuxedo. Though of course Sean Connery is the only perfect Bond, I kind of like the recent films with Daniel Craig. He’s jacked but he’s not even good looking. And he’s beat up: he’s tired and he’s weary. He can still wear the tuxedo to perfection, and there are some girls. But not as many as before because frankly he doesn’t look up to it. The fact that we all wear down especially if we go all out all the time is something nobody has ever been able to change. Poems don’t change reality. But they can reconcile us to it by making us realize that’s just the way things are. If you’re as huge as Kong, you’ll die a clown. So maybe it’s ok being less huge, and staying alive.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fullbore Friday

At last, a wrong is about to be put right.
On October 15, 2013, President Barack Obama will award William Swenson, a former active duty Army Captain, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. Captain Swenson will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as an Embedded Trainer and Mentor of the Afghan National Security Forces with Afghan Border Police Mentor Team, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, during combat operations in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on September 8, 2009.

Captain Swenson will be the sixth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.
There is a story to be told - one you can get a sniff of here - on why this took so long. I hope that comes, as some people need to be held to account.

One of the better summaries of the battle can be found here;
... on September 8, an alternate Training Team, ETT 2-8, set out with their allied Afghan forces to Ganjgal. During their mission planning, it was made clear that no dedicated close air support would be available for the mission but commanders promised artillery support from nearby forward bases. In addition, ETT 2-8 was told that, in case of emergency, helicopter support could be redirected from an operation in a neighboring valley within five minutes. Initial intelligence available to the team indicated that Taliban forces were aware of the pending mission and were setting up ambush positions within the village with a forward force of at least 20 fighters. Concerned with both losing the initiative and the safety of the anti-Taliban village elders, ETT 2-8 decided to proceed with the mission and engage the Taliban forces.

Just after dawn, after inserting into the valley and approaching Ganjgal, the Task Force came under heavy machine gun, small arms and RPG fire from at least 100 entrenched Taliban fighters, far more than indicated was present by intelligence reports. The Task Force soon found itself pinned down in a three-sided ambush and being taunted over open radio channels by Taliban fighters.Initial calls for artillery support were rejected by the command post due to new rules of engagement put in place by Commander Stanley McChrystal in an effort to reduce civilian casualties. Both an Army artillery NCO and an Air Force Joint terminal attack controller took immediate action to provide the ambushed US-Afghan unit with fire support but were overruled by the command post. ETT 2-8 informed their command post that they were not near the village but were again denied fire support. ETT 2-8 began calls for emergency helicopter support but the adjacent helicopter assets were tied up and taking fire in support of another operation.

The coalition forces were taking increasing fire and could observe women and children shuttling fresh ammunition to Taliban fighting positions. Within 30 minutes of making contact, the ETT called back to the command post to provide an artillery barrage of smoke canisters to cover their withdraw. Told that no standard smoke was available, the team requested white phosphorus rounds be used instead to screen their retreat. Nearly an hour later, the white phosphorus rounds landed and the coalition forces retreated under heavy fire a short distance before being pinned once again. By this time, three US Marines, their Navy Corpsman, their Afghan interpreter and several Afghan soldiers had been killed and an Army soldier in the ETT had sustained mortal wounds. Taliban snipers were moving into flanking positions when helicopter support arrived and began to attack Taliban positions. This arrival allowed the wounded to be pulled out and for three Marines to fight their way back up the hill to retrieve fallen comrades. By the time Task Force Chosin had totally disengaged, the firefight had lasted for nearly nine hours.

The position occupied by the three dead Marines and the Navy corpsman had been overrun by the enemy, who stripped the bodies of their gear and weapons. The bodies were recovered after their comrades, including Meyer, braved enemy fire to return to the location
Good map here.

UPDATE: Via our friends at BLACKFIVE; you have to watch this video. Especially those who have not served; you need to watch this.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

How to Troll USNA

Well, you have to give Professor Bruce Fleming credit, he knows what he's doing.

First, a poem.
Kong Looks Back on His Tryout with the Bears
William Trowbridge

If it had worked out, I’d be on a train to Green Bay,
not crawling up this building with the Air Corps
on my ass. And if it weren’t for love, I’d drop
this shrieking little bimbo sixty stories
and let them teach me to mambo and do imitations.
They tried me on the offensive line, told me
to take out the right cornerback for Nagurski.
Eager to please, I wadded up the whole secondary,
then stomped the line, then the bench and locker room,
then the east end of town, to the river.
But they were not pleased: they said I had to
learn my position, become a team player.
The great father Bear himself said that,
so I tried hard to know the right numbers
and how the arrows slanted toward the little o’s.
But the o’s and the wet grass and grunts
drowned out the count, and the tight little cheers
drew my arrow straight into the stands,
and the wives tasted like flowers and raw fish.
So I was put on waivers right after camp
and here I am, panty-sniffer, about to die a clown,
who once opened a hole you could drive Nebraska through.
This is perfect. The job of the liberal arts is to make you think. The job of the English Professor is to show you the power of the written word.

Bruce Fleming, an English professor at the United States Naval Academy, is returning to teaching following a two-day period out of the classroom while officials conducted an investigation into the charges several midshipmen brought against him.

"The investigation concluded and determined that Professor Fleming should return to his normal teaching duties," Naval Academy spokesman Cmdr. John Schofield said, while declining to discuss the details of the charges, claiming it would be inappropriate to do so.

Fleming, however, was very willing to discuss the details of the allegations and the investigation. In an email to, Fleming wrote that several weeks ago two female midshipmen -- a junior and a senior -- took exception to some criticisms he made of the academy's sexual assault prevention program, in particular relative to the recent sex scandal involving members of the Navy football team who were accused of raping a female midshipman at an off-campus party.

The two female midshipmen in Fleming's class took their complaint to the Academy's Sexual Assault and Response (SAPR) office, saying that they had been offended by a poem Fleming had chosen to teach as a metaphor for elements of the sex scandal. On his Facebook page, Fleming identified the "offending poem" as "Kong Looks Back on His Tryout with the Bears" by William Trowbridge.
This isn't just a troll, this tells a much larger truth, which is exactly the point the good Professor was trying to make. He just had no idea his students would take it to a whole other level.

Well played. Well played.

UPDATE: In the spirit of Professor Fleming's troll ... I have to apologize to the front porch ... I did a little trolling too.

A double apology to my STEM friends - though some known engineer types did quite well - it isn't fair to throw poetry and a thousand years of English literary tradition your way - but it needed to be done.

MS, however, fell right in to my troll. Sorry Shipmate, but you made my and Professor Flemings point, in a fashion. Let me help out a bit by having the author speak;
I wrote my first Kong poem, “Kong Looks Back on His Tryout with the Bears,” with no intention of writing any more. But that poem gave me an idea for another and the next yet another. Motivated partly by my attraction to the old 1933 version of the film and partly by a sense that Kong embodies something very human, I wound up with 25 or 30 pages of Kong poems. X.J. Kennedy, in an essay called “Who Killed King Kong,” persuasively argues that Kong is an example of the pitiable monster archetype, a figure who’s good or at least well meaning inside but is trapped in a monstrous body, which hides that goodness from the world. I found in Kong yet another figure in which to combine seriousness with comedy. Like Quasimodo, the Frankenstein monster, the beast in Beauty and the Beast, that monster must suffer and eventually die alienated from fellow creatures. Once again, this figure becomes an archetype because he reflects something in us, who sometimes feel the world doesn’t see the beautiful person deep inside our unbeautiful exterior. Kong may be a monster, but he is as vulnerable and lonely as any of his human counterparts. I didn’t make the Kong poems into a book till about 15 years after I’d written the original poems. It somehow took that long to make me realize that, if I wrote 15 or 20 more, I’d have a book.
Yes, there is a book.

And the author? Big race baiter, eh?
The current Poet Laureate of Missouri, William Trowbridge holds a B.A. in Philosophy and an M. A. in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University. His poetry publications include five full collections: Ship of Fool (Red Hen Press, forthcoming), The Complete Book of Kong (Southeast Missouri State University Press, 2003), Flickers, O Paradise, and Enter Dark Stranger (University of Arkansas Press, 2000, 1995, 1989), and three chapbooks, The Packing House Cantata (Camber Press, 2006), The Four Seasons (Red Dragonfly Press, 2001) and The Book of Kong (Iowa State University Press, l986). His poems have appeared in more than 30 anthologies and textbooks, as well as in such periodicals as Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, Crazyhorse, The Georgia Review, Boulevard, The Southern Review, Columbia, Colorado Review, The Iowa Review, Prairie Schooner, Epoch, and New Letters. He has given readings and workshops at schools, colleges, bookstores, and literary conferences throughout the United States. His awards include an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a Bread Loaf Writers' Conference scholarship, a Camber Press Poetry Chapbook Award, and fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Ragdale, Yaddo, and The Anderson Center. He is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Northwest Missouri State University, where he was an editor of The Laurel Review/GreenTower Press from 1986 to 2004. Now living in Lee's Summit, MO, he teaches in the University of Nebraska low-residency MFA in writing program. His web site is
You can even listen to him if you wish.

From those two MIDN to MS in comments and to everyone else who is reaching for the smelling salts, you need to step back a bit and think why you have a knee jerk reaction to something without doing the intellectually honest thing - and something your education should lead you to - and take a moment to research a bit. Look deeper, read deeper, think deeper. Know that - something great literature and poetry does - your initial response is often wrong. What seems up front is actually not there; what is important is often only found upon reflection and re-reading.

This whole exercise is a superb example of how we let people acting like their own version of Red Guards stomp around the intellectual landscape smashing with their ignorance anything that does not match their blinkered view, or that may be construed to conflict with their fragile worldview.

Cultural Marxism - yea, it's a thing ... and there it is red in tooth and claw.

You don't have to agree with Professor Fleming on everything - I don't - you don't even have to like him - I do - (I like a lot of people from one end to the other, especially the interesting ones as life is short and not meant to keep you comfortable, that is why I like MS as well) --- but you have to respect what he has done here.

What a great educational opportunity for the MIDN. Not only does it demonstrate the power of good poetry, but perfectly demonstrates the use of the archetype (something the eldest Wee Salamander in her 2nd year of AP English knowitallness will prattle on about over dinner) - but it also demonstrates how the non-political can be made political simply by desire.

One downside note - and something Professor Fleming has demonstrated here - these little Red Guards are not harmless. By causing a Professor to be suspended for a few days over a complaint that anyone with even a basic review of the poem in question would know is a bogus claim founded on ignorance - they have created a chill in the air. The weaker mortals will not challenge. Will second guess every word, every 4th level possible interpretation of a work.

Those familiar with Critical Theory will quickly see the problem. Almost any work can be torn apart as racist, sexist, or homophobic. People cut their PhD's creating such alternative universes. If you fear that someone could make such a claim simply because they want to - and that could lead to a suspension - then they will rapidly narrow the authors they will use. They will pull back from any challenging boundaries. People become less educated, less curious, more close minded. Is that what we want? Hang one; terrorize a thousand dontchaknow.

For now though, I will continue to laugh as the cat continues to paw-about with the mice.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Costa Concordia; Back to Zero Bubble

19-hrs in 2-minutes.

Ahhhh ... the logistics of retreat

Judging by traffic, comments and links, I know that the national security consumer has long moved on from Afghanistan.

Well, I haven't and I will continue to post on it just so no one here is "shocked" about where this is all heading.

I'm quite proud of the front porch; you are a rough and tumble but well read group. We manage to keep each other honest and even a history geek like myself learns something new every day from the good folks who comment, email, tweet and play on FB. As a result, I know I don't need to go in to all that much detail with the regulars. You've been reading my stuff on AFG for almost a decade - and you know my line well since President Obama's DEC 09 West Point speech.

Call it what you will, but when we announced to the world that we were leaving Conditions-Based planning for Calendar-Based planning, we signaled retreat. If you're new, click the Afghanistan tag at the bottom of the post an read up. It's all there.

The Taliban are following exactly the Red Most Likely COA; they are husbanding their forces. Attack enough to ensure that you can claim that you kicked the Infidels out - but don't attack so much you lose the forces you will need for the civil war to follow. Take ground when it is surrendered, but only do so kinetically when absolutely necessary. It is better to simply explain to tribal leaders the ground truth, "They are leaving, we are staying. Who do you think you should be working with?"

The signal of retreat is having 2nd and 3rd order effects all over the place. One of the major ones is simply the lack of respect one gets in that part of the world by losing face. A few cases in point:

Via Craig Whitlock in WaPo:
Military logisticians would like to send home 60 percent of their equipment and vehicles by trucking them into Pakistan and then loading them onto ships — the least expensive method by far. But cargo is flowing out on that route at only one-third the planned rate, the officials said.
Officials declined to elaborate on the reasons for their heavy reliance on the more expensive methods of transport. They said, however, that Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and other Pentagon officials are scheduled to arrive Friday in Kabul to meet with senior Afghan officials on the issue.

Carter will also meet with U.S. troops before touring other countries in the region.

The government of Afghanistan closed the border this summer after a dispute over whether the Pentagon and its contractors should have to pay $70 million in customs “fines” for taking the military gear out of the country. The Pentagon has refused to pay, calling the penalties a thinly veiled attempt at a shakedown.
The United States has 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, but that number will dwindle to 34,000 by February. The U.S. and NATO combat mission is scheduled to end by December 2014. The Obama administration and Afghan leaders are still negotiating whether any U.S. troops will stay after that to help train Afghan security forces.
They've seen this movie before, they know what comes next.

I remember a dark moment in Destille Garden outside HQ ISAF in a late Thursday chatfest with the gaggle in early '09. Playing "what if" where I offered for the first time - repeated since a few times here - that if we were not in it to win it, that we should just withdrawal to the airheads. Fly everyone that we can out of there. Kill anyone who approaches too close to the base perimeter. What we can't fly out, destroy - as it would be immoral to ask one more American family to ask one of their children to die for something we have no intention of seeing through.

Of course, that was an extreme and ill-advised COA spoken in the false bravado a few days with little sleep will give you, but something we all kind of nodded our head at. We are doing a slower version of that right now in any event. Following the CINC's D&G of late '09, we have to give credit to those who got him to delay the full retreat signal from '11 to '14. That gave us a few more years to help create the effects we wanted on the ground to hopefully give the Afghan people a better chance, but we know what history is telling us.

Jacob Siegel is about on the right sheet of music over at TheDailyBeast,
For 12 years the United States has waged war in Afghanistan, pursuing a shifting set of objectives as public interest came and went. Now, facing the full withdrawal of military forces by the end of 2014, time is running out to make what we can of the country we’ve occupied for more than a decade.
It’s hard to achieve a recognizable victory in a war whose aims keep being redefined, but perhaps this, too, is Afghan good enough. We have achieved considerable success at prosecuting central al Qaeda and denying it sanctuary in Afghanistan, an effort that culminated in the public view with the raid on Osama bin Laden.

But the Taliban, once in decline, has been resurgent in recent years and now effectively controls large parts of the Pashtun south.

The Afghan military forces, which have been the focus of American training and funding, have displayed a mixed record at best. Desertion and corruption are both rampant. The logistical system is incapable of providing necessary supplies on time, and in many cases the willingness of units to fight is questionable.

The Afghan forces, unsurprisingly, take the long view. They know we are leaving soon, and where they see themselves outnumbered many seek accommodation with the Taliban as a means of self-preservation. The upshot has been that some areas once rid of Taliban forces have been ceded back to them after the Afghan Army took over responsibility.
It didn't have to end this way, but it is. We lost our patience. We are serving a half-cooked loaf of bread simply because we couldn't be patient enough to follow the recipe.

Has much changed in the year since Carmen Gentil's report?
A former resistance fighter during the Soviet occupation of his country, Afghan Col. Turab Adil knows that Afghans can put up a good fight.

He recalls how in the 1980s the mujahedin, as they were known, slipped through the hills and valleys to drive out the Communist superpower and its attack helicopters, tanks and fully armed troops.

Today's Afghan army will fight just as ferociously against Taliban fighters, but Adil and others say it can't defeat them under the current U.S. military strategy that calls for the withdrawal of all combat forces by the end of 2014.
"Over the last few years there has been tremendous progress in the Afghan National Security Forces," he says. "But when it comes to logistics (supplies and support for Afghan troops), intelligence gathering and decision-making, they still need help."
On the margins, perhaps - from the INFOPS and PSYOPS of the Taliban are way ahead of our efforts.

It is almost moot at this point. The last fighting season is done. Our poor planners don't even have the D&G to know what they are to do and with how many forces next year. Hard to do troops-to-task when you don't even have your tasks yet.

Well, that is what you have Branch Plans for ... or we can go the Wesley Clark method and make it up as we go along.

This might turn out OK, that that isn't where the smart money is.  
I wish the Tajik, Uzbek, and especially Hazara the best of luck from here on out. As for the Pashtun - well - never cared much from them from Karzai on down.

Unlike that dark talk in Destille Gardens, I think we will get home fairly intact. We'll be allowed to leave not unlike the Soviets over the Friendship Bridge.

Could be worse.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Just because of who they are

I had the usual line up coming as one would expect by "CDR Salamander" in mid-week, but ... no; that will have to wait, I'm just not in the mood.

When the news of the shooting at the Navy Yard came out yesterday, I thought about some good people I know who work there. 

Good people like our friend CAPT Jerry Hendrix & CAPT Mark Vandroff. The various folks at NAVSEA who I have friendly exchanges with, some for years, who I don't know in 3D, but after the years feel like I do. Some my spies, but most just great public servants in and out of uniform; some AD, some retired, some civilian employees. 

What we share is one thing; a big United Stats Navy somewhere on a card, an ID, a resume, or just soaked in as ones tribe. We all share a love for our Navy and, in our own ways, each try to make it better.

The Washington Navy Yard was attacked on Monday for one reason; it was Navy. The building 197 was attacked because it was Navy. Those people were shot because they represented the Navy.

They each died because they served the Navy. The method does not matter. The location does not matter. In that light, at least we can remember their names. Many people on the front porch know some of these names.

For now we know seven.

Michael Arnold, 59
Sylvia Frasier, 53
Kathy Gaarde, 62
John Roger Johnson, 73
Frank Kohler, 50
Kenneth Bernard Proctor, 46
Vishnu Pandit, 61

Decades of service.

I'm out of pocket for much of the day, but I'll try to add others in as they come available. I think that is enough for now.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Active Shooter at Washington Navy Yard

For those who are not following me on twitter or FB, there is an active shooter at the Washington Navy Yard.
The U.S. Navy says one person is injured after a shooting at a Navy building in Washington.

Police and emergency crews gathered Monday morning outside the Naval Sea Systems Command Headquarters building, where the shooting was reported.

The Navy says three shots were fired and that that about 3,000 people work in the building. People inside the building have been directed to stay in place.

Naval Sea Systems Command is the largest of the Navy's five system commands and accounts for a quarter of the Navy's entire budget.

It builds, buys and maintains the Navy's ships and submarines and their combat systems.

Police from multiple local and federal agencies were responding along with SWAT crews.
Our thoughts are with all the Shipmates there.

UPDATE: Have heard from a very reliable source that some of the lost today are from PEO SHIPS. As a side-note, I will not be giving tons of updates on this here, but more on twitter as re-tweets mostly for those who follow me. Major updates I will put here as short notes.

UPDATE 1726: We know who the shooter is now. I think that will do for an update for now. Let's let things tie together for at least a day. To do more is not helpful at best.

Nice Salad Bar

Last week's pic of the 1st Sea Lord had me thinking about uniforms again. With perfect timing, the folks at GlobalSecurity put out a topical piece, The Sukhomlinov Effect.
"There is a curious, disturbingly regular, pattern apparent here. In war, victory goes to the side whose leaders appear the least prepossessing. The handsome dressers lose. This is particularly obvious for military field dress. ... It is not accidental, therefore, that the revolutionary's garb is puritanical, a symbol of renunciation of the old order. There is Mao Tse Tung's boiler suit. Ho Chi Minh's simple jacket. Fidel Castro's messy fatigues. It is the outlook which such renunciation garb represents that gives staying power to the Long March, single purpose to the revolution, and appeals so seductively to the jaded mentality of bourgeois intellectuals." [James, BJ; Beaumont, RA (1971) The Law of Military Plumage (Dressed Up to Kill). Transition [Magazine] 39: 24–27.]

In Dirty Little Secrets, James F. Dunnigan and Albert Nofi write [on page 283]: "Consider the lessons of history: the barbarian invasions, the Dutch War for Independence, the English Civil War, the American Revolution, the French Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, WWI, the Russian Revolution, WWII, the several Arab-Israeli Wars, the Vietnam War, and the Afghan War were all lost by the side that had the snappier uniforms. There is more than a coincidence here, though the suggestion of a "law" at work is perhaps a bit facetious. ... The Sukhomlinov Effect describes a common pathology of armies. Particularly in peacetime, armies tend to concern themselves more with appearances and style than with fighting skill, which cannot, after all, be demonstrated. Men who "look" like generals- tall, ruggedly handsome guys with broad shoulders and splendid posture who wear the uniform well- are more likely to be promoted than those who may have a real talent for war, since the latter may not meet the peacetime criteria. Although lots of fine commanders have been short, and fat, and slovenly, they had to wait around for a war before they could prove themselves. There is no known way to pick the able generals in peacetime. As a result, despite a few notable exceptions, the generals who command at the onset of a war are rarely still in charge by its conclusion."
We have all heard the arguments for the ribbon-for-not-getting-a-BCD-this-year and the you've-reached-your-PRD-medal - and I don't buy them. Never did, and still don't.

Besides how patronizing they are, think of the admin-overhead they cause. I don't know about you, but British, Canadian, and German military performance is quite fine with their few and far between awards.

How did all that work out for our friend Sukhomlinov?
Vladimir Aleksandrovich Sukhomlinov (1848-1926), the Russian general and war minister, was born in 16 August 1848. He passed through the cavalry school in St. Petersburg, and in 1867 was given a commission in the Guard Ulans. He graduated from the Academy of the General Staff in 1874. He took part in the war with Turkey in 1877-8 as an officer of the general staff, and was awarded the St. George Cross of the fourth degree.

From 1884 to 1886 he commanded a dragoon regiment and from 1886 to 1897 he was the head of the officers' cavalry school in St. Petersburg, having meantime in 1890 been promoted to the rank of general. His next appointment was as commander of the 10th Cavalry Division. In 1899, while commanding the troops of the Kiev military district, Gen. Dragomirov appointed him as his chiefof-staff and later as his assistant. His close connexion with Gen. Dragomirov, who enjoyed enormous prestige in the Russian army, ensured Sukhomlinov's future career. After the death of Dragomirov, he was appointed commander in Kiev.

In March 1909, Vladimir Sukhomlinov took over the post of Minister of War of the Russian Empire. He was a proponent of the development and use of new technologies; Thanks to him, the Russian army established automotive units and a naval air fleet. In 1911, the Russian army military counter-intelligence was established.

In the Council of Ministers at Suhomlinova had a difficult relationship with Minister of finance V.N. Kokovcovym, who sought to reduce military spending. In the midst of the first world war, when in the spring of 1915, the biggest disadvantage of shells and other military equipment, Suhomlinova became regarded as the main perpetrator of poor supply of the Russian army. In June 1915, he was dismissed from his post as Minister of war, and soon there began investigations of his activities at the ministerial post.

In March 1916, Vladimir Sukhomlinov was dismissed from military service in April was arrested and while the investigation continued, had been detained in Trubeckom bastion of the Peter and Paul Fortress. In October, he was transferred to house arrest. As co-defendants were also his wife E.B. Butovic.

The trial of Suhomlinovym lasted for months. He was charged with treason, idle power and bribery. The majority of the allegations had been substantiated, however, Vladimir Sukhomlinov was found guilty of unpreparedness of the army for war and sentenced to indefinite and deprivation of all rights. His wife was acquitted. Katorga was soon replaced by a term of imprisonment, and was placed in Sukhomlinov Trubetskoy bastion of the Peter and Paul Fortress.

After the October revolution, Vladimir Sukhomlinov was transferred to another prison. In May 1918, as a result of an amnesty, he was released and then travelled to Finland and from there to Germany. In exile, wrote memoirs, which tried to rehabilitate him. Vladimir Aleksandrovich Sukhomlinov February 2, 1926 died in Berlin.
But, he looked sharp, I guess.

Can you go back? How do you put the salad bar back in the tube? It would take one heck of a SECDEF and CJCS .... with a little zeitgeist at their back. 

No time soon, methinks - and that is sad. We are a better military than that; a better people than that. At least, I think we are. Am I wrong?

I don't think so. When did all this go south? It was before my time, probably dates - as many things which are bad - to the late '60s to early '70s.  

It really got bad in the 1990s though when they got rid of the UIC quota for NAMs. When was it? 1995?

The Army and USAF went off the deep end earlier than that methinks, and the USMC is the last one holding the line, but from what I have heard, they have picked up the other services' bad habits.

Does it matter? Of course it does. 

By diluting real achievement, it loses its significance and makes it hard to point your finger at what is really desired. You turn exemplary service in to a needle in a haystack. You make average to sub-par performance in to exceptional performance. When all is exceptional, then nothing is.

You sate the insecure at the expense of recognizing superior performance. That is not a formula to promote a culture of striving. That is the cost.

Hat tip MH.