Friday, May 30, 2014

Fullbore Friday

Naval Aviation's greatest dogfight of the Vietnam War, a little over 43 years ago, 10 MAY 71.

Oh, for those who love the F-35B/C, the 36:50 minute point is for you.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

CNA Places Rake in Yard, Promptly Steps on it

When something you care about just embarrasses itself in public, one option is to just let the moment pass. Nothing you can do can add to the shame they feel themselves.

It is something altogether different though when the act was not an accident - but was an intentional act done for what appears to be personal reasons that impact the overall organization. If something gives the impression of the later, innocent or not, you have significant problems.

When it is easy for an external eye to see obvious conflicts of interest - what does it say when internally all are blind?

As reported by Rowan Scarborough, CNA needs to clean house sooner more than later. Let's connect the dots;
The May 13 report came from the military advisory board within CNA Corp., a nonprofit based in Alexandria, Virginia, that includes the Center for Naval Analyses, a Navy-financed group that also gets contracts from other Pentagon units. CNA also operates the Institute for Public Research. 
CNA’s webpage states that it is not an advocacy group. It says it maintains “absolute objectivity. In our investigations, analyses and findings we test hypotheses, carefully guard against personal biases and preconceptions, challenge our own findings and are uninfluenced by what a client would like to hear.” 
The Center for Naval Analyses’ motto is “high quality, impartial information.”
One of the CNA panel’s vice chairmen, retired Navy Vice Adm. Lee Gunn, is president of a private think tank, the American Security Project, whose prime issue is warning about climate change. 
The other vice chairman, retired Army Brig. Gen. Gerald E. Galloway Jr., is a prominent adviser to the Center for Climate and Security, a climate change group. 
In all, four CNA board members sit on the panel of advisers to the Center for Climate and Security, whose statements on climate change are similar to those found in the CNA report.

Other board members work in the climate change world of consulting and technology.
The CNA advisory panel is headed by retired four-star Army Gen. Paul Kern, who sits on the board of directors of a company that sells climate-detection products to the Pentagon and other government agencies. At least two other board members are employed in businesses that sell climate change expertise and products.
The greatest influence on CNA reports seems to come from the Center for Climate and Security, whose position is that the debate on climate change, or man-made global warming, is over. 
“This is a world which recognizes that climate change risks are unprecedented in human history and does not wait for absolute certainty before acting to mitigate and adapt to those risks,” the center says. 
The CNA report, titled “National Security and the Accelerating Risks of Climate Change,” says: “Some in the political realm continue to debate the cause of a warming planet and demand more data.” It then quotes a board member as saying, “Speaking as a soldier, we never have 100 percent certainty. If you wait until you have 100 percent certainty, something bad is going to happen on the battlefield.”
The Center for Climate and Security has taken donations from the Tides Foundation, which gets money from Democratic Party financier and liberal billionaire George Soros. 
The CNA credits the Center for Climate and Security for helping release the report, and the center issued a press release lauding the report the day it was released.
Oh, there is a lot more there. It gets worse, and they name names. Unless CNA wants to gain the reputation as another partisan agenda driven tool in DC, selling its name and honor to the highest bidder, then it needs to do some serious thinking.

One of the big problems with this whole mess is that this isn't actually a CNA "study." If it was, it would have more rigorous analysis and data backing the conclusions. Instead it is an opinion piece by the "military advisory board," a bunch of retired GOFO who pad their resume by being "think tank guys" even though they have neither the skills nor the education/background to do real and substantial analysis. They're window dressing so CNA can say they're "in touch" with military concerns. They got away from the real analysts and did something embarrassing to themselves and those who associate with them.

This will not help anyone involved either. Having someone who used to be at the highest ranks of the military using and citing the battlefield as an analogy is a complete misuse of the public's good will. This only invites scrutiny as to their credentials and qualifications to discuss climate change. The results of that scrutiny only invites ridicule for our profession.

I wait for the CNA to report on the military implications of the expected increasing light in the morning, and the gathering gloom of darkness later in the day.

Diversity Thursday

Gum of their system.

The time is just about ripe.

This generation has an opening to hold everyone to the same standard, just like these young men are;
The trouble began in English professor Shannon Gibney’s Introduction to Mass Communications class at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. Though the class ostensibly has little to do with race, Gibney considers herself an activist on racial issues, and frequently invokes white privilege and oppression during class time, according to her students. (She has previously taught classes on race and gender.)

Recently, several white students announced that they had had enough with Gibney’s incessant racial screed. They interrupted her during a lecture, and said, “Why do we have to talk about this in every class? Why do we have to talk about this?” according to Gibney’s account of the incident, which was recorded by the City College News.

Gibney felt put on the spot, but told the students not to take matters personally.

“We are not talking about all white people, or you white people in general,” she told them. “We are talking about whiteness as a system of oppression.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this failed to provide comfort to the white students. Next, Gibney invited them to file a racial harassment complaint with the college if they were so offended.

So they did.
Read the rest, and be happy. MLK taught to peacefully stand up, speak the truth, and shame the system to discover its own internal disconnects. It works.
UPDATE:In related news;

A Long Island police lieutenant has been awarded $1.35 million in his racial discrimination lawsuit against the village of Freeport.
Lt. Christopher Barrella, who is white, had accused the village of awarding the police chief’s job to a Hispanic officer with few qualifications and a lower test score.

Following the federal jury’s decision Thursday, Barrella described the process as trying but said he always had faith in the jury system.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Tell me more about your exquisite network ...

Long periods of peace for a military are times of both great opportunity, and peril. As you don't have the hard truth contact with an enemy to show you your strengths and weaknesses, you have to make certain assumptions and estimates.

If you are mostly smart leavened with a bit of luck, you have made assumptions for the right reasons. You don't assume away the difficult, the inconvenient, or that which makes your bosses uncomfortable. You make informed assumptions. Assumptions based on observation, realistic war gaming, and a vigorous jockeying for position in the marketplace of ideas.

You have to be ruthless against those who have agendas that are based on personal, ideological, or pet theories founded on emotion. You have to be brutally honest with yourself about your own ideas, how they reflect the lessons of history, and what the abilities are of possible opponents.

You need to clearly understand your critical vulnerabilities even more than you do that of others.

The well grounded person must guard against one human weakness even more that that of the self-focused agenda; that of the wide-eyed, overly enthusiastic advocate who holds aloft the bright shiny idol that they will build everything around.

Often, their idol is a good idea that, in proper design, is part of the future - but if over used and emphasized, becomes an actual obstacle to efficient prosecution of a war at best, at worst its overuse creates a gaping vulnerability itself.

In a nation that loves its latest technology, our fetish and faith in it, is such an idol.

They enemy gets a vote - and for a navy that has not been on the receiving end of a determined, sustained, and capable enemy at sea for decades - we seem to have forgotten this simple fact.

That is why it scares the crap out of me when I think all we have foolishly built on top of our shiny little idols from GPS to EHF Spot Beam - and thrown away the backup from celestial navigation to HF TTY.

For these reasons, my jaw sets when I hear otherwise smart people who who should know better tell others that the cornerstones of our future fleet - and the key to its success at war - will and must be tightly networked computers riding on the back of satellite based VOX and data streams. Faith and hope have supplanted critical thinking and robust, prudent planning.

Part of our national security apparatus appreciates the danger - hence the attempt to get the collective mind around cyber and playing "going dark" in a few selected war games, while the larger part just wants to pretend it isn't there - and thinks that war will be like peace, like their scripted training, where all your planning assumptions are true, where you own the air, space, and everything in between.

Let's leave the little lie we tell each other about perpetual supremacy of the electromagnetic spectrum for a bit, and instead let's look at the sea and shore COTS computer challenge.

Sweat espionage if you wish - but instead think of everything with a Windows interface just not working ... for weeks.

Stir the following around your planning. Via Quinn Norton over at Medium with a standard Kristen language warning (where ever she is now days);
Besides being riddled with annoying bugs and impossible dialogs, programs often have a special kind of hackable flaw called 0days by the security scene. No one can protect themselves from 0days. It’s their defining feature — 0 is the number of days you’ve had to deal with this form of attack. There are meh, not-so-terrible 0days, there are very bad 0days, and there are catastrophic 0days that hand the keys to the house to whomever strolls by. I promise that right now you are reading this on a device with all three types of 0days. “But, Quinn,” I can hear you say, “If no one knows about them how do you know I have them?” Because even okay software has to work with terrible software. The number of people whose job it is to make software secure can practically fit in a large bar, and I’ve watched them drink. It’s not comforting. It isn’t a matter of if you get owned, only a matter of when.

Look at it this way — every time you get a security update (seems almost daily on my Linux box), whatever is getting updated has been broken, lying there vulnerable, for who-knows-how-long. Sometimes days, sometimes years. Nobody really advertises that part of updates. People say “You should apply this, it’s a critical patch!” and leave off the “…because the developers fucked up so badly your children’s identities are probably being sold to the Estonian Mafia by smack addicted script kiddies right now.”
Recently an anonymous hacker wrote a script that took over embedded Linux devices. These owned computers scanned the whole rest of the internet and created a survey that told us more than we’d ever known about the shape of the internet. The little hacked boxes reported their data back (a full 10 TBs) and quietly deactivated the hack. It was a sweet and useful example of someone who hacked the planet to shit. If that malware had actually been malicious, we would have been so fucked.

This is because all computers are reliably this bad: the ones in hospitals and governments and banks, the ones in your phone, the ones that control light switches and smart meters and air traffic control systems. Industrial computers that maintain infrastructure and manufacturing are even worse. I don’t know all the details, but those who do are the most alcoholic and nihilistic people in computer security. Another friend of mine accidentally shut down a factory with a malformed ping at the beginning of a pen test. For those of you who don’t know, a ping is just about the smallest request you can send to another computer on the network. It took them a day to turn everything back on.
Yea ... read it all.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

LTG Bolger and the Path Not Taken

Lieutenant General Daniel Bolger, USA (Ret) isn't waiting for this summer's withdraw date in AFG to put out his marker on the post-911 wars. He is holding few punches in his upcoming book, Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.

As reported by Mark Thompson in Time;
“By next Memorial Day, who’s going to say that we won these two wars?” Bolger said in an interview Thursday. “We committed ourselves to counterinsurgency without having a real discussion between the military and civilian leadership, and the American population —’Hey, are you good with this? Do you want to stay here for 30 or 40 years like the Korean peninsula, or are you going to run out of energy?’ It’s obvious: we ran out of energy.”

The military fumbled the ball by not making clear how long it would take to prevail in both nations. “Once you get past that initial knockout shot, and decide you’re going to stay awhile, you’d better define ‘a while,’ because in counter-insurgency you’re talking decades,” Bolger says. “Neither [the Bush nor the Obama] Administration was going to do that, yet I was in a military that was planning for deployments forever, basically. An all-volunteer force made it easy to commit the military to a long-term operation because they were volunteers.”

The nation and its military would have been far smarter to invade, topple the governments they didn’t like, and get out. “Both wars were won, and we didn’t know enough to go home” after about six months, Bolger argues. “It would have been messy and unpleasant, and our allies would have pissed and moaned, because limited wars by their nature have limited, unpalatable results. But what result would have been better — that, or this?”
As I have often found with Army officers, Bolger seems very USA and military-centric in his thinking. Sound, but not complete.

I would like to make a point of order that I hope he brings up in his book. After 911, one of the subtle ways the media and the think-tank ponderatti liked to tell us, "It was out fault," was to point out that after the Soviet withdraw and collapse of the AFG government left behind, that the USA and the West just forgot AFG. Did nothing to help ... etc. The move was then to "fix" everyone to show our goodness and greatness.

The military at the start of the AFG and IRQ conflicts did not, it is true, have any great plan to occupy and fix either place. Didn't see that as our job at the time. The powers that be and the self-appointed thinking classes had greater ideas from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay. When things went sideways, they bugged out or hid behind walls - leaving the military to try to rediscover then anti-joy of COIN. So we did.

While there are good odds that Bolger's book will be misused by the usual suspects to beat up on the military. That is expected. Though the review does not give this appearance, I hope his book does address the D, I, & E of our "comprehensive" approach to these wars, but if we only get the M, that's fine. We'll wait for someone else to address the other three parts of DIME.

I believe that the argument can be made that we got something close to a win in IRQ, but that AFG does not look like it will rise to that low standard.

As reported so far, Bolger's thoughts are more on target and heading in the right direction than not - and in some ways are Salamanderesque;
Bolger recently wondered when the U.S. military was going to conduct a formal and traditional After-Action Report (AAR) on its performance in the two wars. “Some say the Iraq surge of 2007 proved counterinsurgency tactics worked. Others point out that today’s Iraq is a sectarian mess, undermining that belief. As for the Afghan surge of 2010-11, well, who knows? We cannot even say, or will not even say, who won these campaigns. It sure does not seem to be us,” Bolger wrote in the February issue in Signals, the journal of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

Such studies, long a part of military learning, have lessons for both the past and the future. “You might think such an assessment might be rather useful as we prepare to carve up and rearrange our armed forces to face today’s uncertain world. Facts offer a better starting point than hunches, emotions and ‘the way we’ve always done it.’ What did we learn from the current war? We owe it to the citizens we serve, and we certainly owe it to the men and women we have lost. We are past due for a long, hard look.”

Monday, May 26, 2014

A Simple Memorial Day Ponder

Of the significant conflicts of this century for the USA, 2014 finds Iraq well in the rear view mirror, and Afghanistan has us focused on getting out come what may.

As I've outlined before, Afghanistan was the conflict I was focused on for most of my last eight years on active duty, in one role or another. Just by circumstances, Iraq was someone's else's job.

I would ask your indulgence this Memorial Day; I would just like to focus on those who gave their lives in that little corner of our recent history since 2001.

One thing I have noticed, especially in the last five years, is that on the whole Americans just don't care anymore. Even on a blog like this where readers have a predisposition to understand things military - in case you never noticed - people aren't all that interested.

When I've published on the topic of AFG either via some quick observations and other posts I spent days putting together - the interest by the public simply is not there. I can look at the links, posts, and reads - and it is obvious. Posts on either side of an AFG related post - be it about shipbuilding or Colombian women - that is where the comments, re-reads, and links go. I guess that is expected and really, not surprising.

Nothing bad on the reader, it just is what it is. Today though is not for another review of what is really a lost cause. For goodness sake, after a dozen+ years fighting trying to pull that retched nation and its suffering people in to the 19th Century - our President has to sneak in at night and the AFG President won't even come by to say, "Hi!" - and in an area awash with the world's only superpower's weapons - our CINC cannot safely make the trip to him. Bad manners on both parties. Speaks for itself.

Today, I think of those I served with who did not come home. Some I knew only by name, others I just spent days absorbing O2 with waiting for a flight in or out. Some I just flew over, or drove by.

All of them went to AFG for one reason, they had orders to go. They signed up to serve their nation and do what its leaders thought needed to be done - and they did it. They did their duty, and they did not come home alive as a result.

History yet written will tell the story of what they gave their life for - especially in the last few years that has become an open question - but we know already. They gave their life for those they served with. Those they led, those whose computer systems they kept working, whose FOB they kept supplied, whose platoon needed someone on point. They served more or less the reason we all did - they had a mission, and they had people to do it with. The mission and your people.

In an environment where the very top of the leadership refuses to offer you anything else, mission and the people to your left and right - that is more than enough for them. That should also be enough for us to honor those men and women who nodded their head, and moved forward to the sound of gunfire.

I know there are 2,312 men and women there, I'm not asking you to visit each one, but MilitaryTimes has a very well done and respectful site that outlines those who died in OEF. Take a moment, pick a random page, and get to know their faces if only for a moment.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Fullbore Friday

It is easy to forget in our sheltered republic that we are an experiment in self-government designed by people who knew two things:

1. The natural condition of civilization is one of oppression, tyranny, and the few who use the power of the state to strengthen their position on top of the consumed liberty of others.

2. The natural condition of mankind is freedom of person and mind.

In full knowledge of this conflict and how it has waxed and waned through recorded history, they tried to put together a system that, if properly maintained, will maximize personal liberty inside a functional government.

Always a work in progress. Let's see ... how did they put it, in part?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
We take so much from granted.

I many parts of the world, just a little, simple act will get you thrown in jail.

The Iranian people deserve so much. Their government is evil, but the people are inherently good - if they are just given the chance. Heck, I not only grew up with Iranians ... I have them as neighbors today.

As I like to point out, one of the largest Iranian cities is Tehrangeles, depending on where you define its boundaries and count noses, it has a population somewhere around a half-million, and it is located in the USA. 

Didn't know that? Don't hear a lot about radical terrorists from there? No, of course you don't. There you go.

True, a large number of them are Iranian Jews, and in many ways they reflect a similar intellectual demographic as Florida Cubans; intellectuals, professionals, and freedom loving personalities who could not or would not bend to the yoke of the new system - but still, as a body they have become exceptional Americans.

Anyway, why is this topic on Fullbore Friday? Simple - some acts of courage are doing things simply out of a feeling of being happy - in an environment where being happy, especially a happy woman, can get you arrested.

What risk have you taken to make a statement about securing your basic right to liberty? What petty tyranny have you stood up to in your life?
Tehran's police chief was deeply offended. "It's obscene," he declared, and promptly arrested six young men and women who made a joyful fan video, dancing and lip-synching to the sound of Pharrell Williams' huge hit, "Happy."
The six Iranians, wearing colorful clothes, stylish sun shades and bright bandanas, dared to dance to the beat of "Happy." The women did not cover their heads with the required hijab. At times, the men and women danced together, which is forbidden and punishable under the law. But elsewhere -- when the police aren't looking -- Iranian men and women dance together and see nothing wrong with it.

But the police found it offensive. Iran state media called it "vulgar."

The backlash against the arrests was forceful, and before long, the police released the dancers, although the director of the video apparently remains in custody.

The group describes itself as "Tehran Pharell Williams Fans," which may strike the oversensitive authorities in the Islamic Republic as a highly subversive political affiliation. The nefarious motivation for making the video was revealed at the end of the clip, which reads, "'Happy' was an excuse to be happy. We enjoyed every second of making it. Hope it puts a smile on your face."

As the opposition National Iranian American Council noted, "The irony that the Iranian youth were arrested for dancing to a song called 'Happy' seems to be lost on the Iranian authorities. The Iranian people cannot be forced to live in a world where (nuclear) enrichment is a right, but happiness is not."

More than 100,000 people have viewed the Iranian version of "Happy," which stirred up a bizarre political storm. Tehran Police Chief Hossein Sajedinia boasted of taking less than six hours to round up the evildoers and lock them up, but not before parading them before the television cameras, a stern warning to other young people who might be getting any crazy ideas in their heads; no telling what may lurk in the minds of youngsters listening to Williams' lyrics.
They know where they live. What they did in this funny little video of an overexposed and insipid song is in the finest traditions of what is the natural state of mankind, in the face of a version of its worst totalitarian tendencies. 


Hug your American passport a bit - and if the Green Revolution rises again, ask why we don't at least provide a bit more moral support than we did before.

Oh, and be happy - it's your birthright.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The CNO and the Compelling Attractiveness of Maturity

We have been waiting over a decade for a CNO to say this. Admiral Greenert, BZ.
The ship that was to revolutionize surface warfare has been controversial since its inception 12 years ago. But the firestorm over the littoral combat ship might have been avoided had the Navy better explained the rationale for the ship and answered critics' questions more clearly, said Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert.
When you boil down the arguments made and and other places since the second Bush43 administration, this is one of the cornerstones of the critique;
Former Deputy Defense Secretary Christine Fox called LCS a "niche platform" that can only operate in "permissive" environments.
The CNO is, as the position demands, a bit of a politician. As such, we have to allow him some running room to give a little hug and kiss on the cheek,
"I don't think we made any mistakes per se, but I think we could have been more clear on our intention for taking the sea frame and evolving it through the life of the ship," he said. Greenert noted that some of the Navy's most successful ship classes grew in fits and starts, not unlike LCS. The Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate had four flights, he said, using the Navy term for technology updates. The Spruance-class destroyers went through two flights and the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers had four.
... before slipping the knife in between the ribs;
"We never really articulated formally or discussed the feasibility of having flights" in the LCS program, nor has the Navy explained "how we intended to upgrade it for survivability," said Greenert.
Sigh. Should I give him a pass on this old and busted "oldthink?"
"This is a very transformational concept," said Greenert. "As with any first of class ship and aircraft, complications emerge."
Gives me hives just reading that for the 1,000,000 time.
Why the ship ended up being the subject of relentless criticism is not anyone's fault in particular, said Greenert, who declined to point fingers. "I don't want to be judgmental."
That's OK CNO; we've got that sector covered for 'ya.
One of the reasons why the Navy did poorly at selling LCS within the Defense Department and to Congress, he said, was turnover and difficulties managing changes that were made over the years to ship designs and to procurement strategies. "People change offices. It was very difficult to keep up, I think."
This argument is valid, but weak. What was the turnover for SPRU and OHP? VIRGINIA SSN? Taht being said, I think the CNO is again trying not to hurt feelings too bad, but then ...
Now, he added, "We've reached a node where people are saying we need to take a deep breath and take another look at this."

This last little pull quote from the article should give everyone pause, and a smile;
“If we go to a new design, it has to be mature,” Greenert said. “If something is compelling, but would take more time, we'll relay that to the secretary.”
Verily. Verily. Verily.

The return of the evolution - and putting the revolution back in Disneyworld's Tomorrowland where it belongs.

Hat tip C.

Diversity Thursday


If you have not already, get ready to have some little twit tell you, "Check your privilege."

All my fellow "argument snobs" will enjoy the below.

I've checked mine recently; it's fine too. Rather long and distinguished, if you must know.

Speaking of the whole "check your privilege" movement, it looks like the Army is all-in.
Newly minted non-commissioned officers in the Army are now being told to “check their privilege” as part of a radical new form of training that would re-examine issues such as giving lawful orders, leadership skills and showing real competency in Army traditions and knowledge ...

The change to the course stem from Specialist Clarissa Estes, who had effectively lobbied for the Army to address what she called “rank privilege,” as well as assignment of details and how to maintain the self-esteem of junior enlisted soldiers.

According to Estes, junior enlisted soldiers decided the NCO corps needed to have a better understanding of “race, gender, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, ability, religion, international status, and power differentials” prior to entering classroom discussions.
“You can either go to a diversity talk, or you can go take the APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test). That was our orientation,” Estes said, of what she was hearing out of the most recent course this past April. “I mean sure, they all went rather than take a test that flagrantly discriminates and measures our ability to physically perform … but did they really listen?”
Impeccably sourced, natch.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

McRaven: Spoken Word

In Texas at least, you can have good speakers at your Commencement Address. In this case, University of Texas at Austin.

Treat yourself to 20-minutes - and for goodness sake, don't ring the bell.

Hat tip Chap.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Neither Serve, nor Protect

Where the smears grow deadly fruit.

They grow in a deadly stew of an agenda driven campaign to marginalize veterans, the desire of some people to help their own image by creating a victim they can prove to everyone else they care so much about, and worse - a mindset of some put in a position of power over others, where they derive almost s3xual pleasure over the appearance of being a military force. They almost thrive over the looks of something between Waffen SS and Star Wars Stormtroopers. 

Officer Friendly, they are not.

Take small minded people who don't think critically, give them power, fill them up with propaganda ... and behold.

I give you Sgt. Dan Downing of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department.
“When I first started we really didn’t have the violence that we see today,” adding, “The weaponry is totally different now that it was in the beginning of my career, plus, you have a lot of people who are coming out of the military that have the ability and knowledge to build IEDs and to defeat law enforcement techniques.”

Downing goes on to relate how citizens approach the vehicle when it stops at gas stations to express their concerns that the militarization of police is about arming cops with the tools required for mass gun confiscation programs.

“We were actually approached when we’d stop to get fuel by people wanting to know why we needed this…what were we going to use it for? ‘Are you coming to take our guns away?’” said Downing. “To come and take away their firearms…that absolutely is not the reason why we go this vehicle. We got this vehicle because of the need and because of increased violence that we have been facing over the last few years….I’ll be the last person to come and take anybody’s guns.”
Just let that soak in; Indiana for goodness sake. Ponder that addled cliche of a wannabe jack-booted thug with a badge for a moment ... and then let's bring in some facts.
Law enforcement deaths this year dropped to their lowest level since 1959, while the decade of the 2000s was among the safest for officers, despite the deadliest single day for police on Sept. 11, 2001.

“To reach a 50-year low in officer deaths is a real credit to the law enforcement profession and its commitment to providing the best possible training and equipment to our officers,’’ said Craig Floyd, the Memorial Fund chairman and chief executive officer. “But we cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a state of complacency.’’

Through Dec. 27, the report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found that 124 officers were killed this year, compared with 133 in 2008. The 2009 total represents the fewest line-of-duty deaths since 108 a half-century ago. Also, traffic fatalities fell to 56, compared with 71 a year ago, partly attributed to the passage of “move over’’ laws. Although firearms deaths rose to 48, the 39 fatalities in 2008 represented the lowest annual figure in more than five decades.
Does he know that? Does he care? Odds are, "No" to both.

Shall I quote myself - again?
Remember the formula. If all vets have PTSD, then they are victims. If they are victims, they are to be pitied. If they are to be pitied, they are not your equal. If they are not your equal, their options do not carry the same impact. If their opinions do not carry the same impact, they are marginalized. If they are marginalized, they can be ignored. If they can be ignored, then I don't need to include them in our national discourse. Etc ... etc
You can add to that, a threat to public safety.

Hey Morgan County veterans - you're paying for it - enjoy.

Take time to watch the full video here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The VA in a Nutshell

Over at HotAir, Jazz Shaw interviews Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO). In it, the Congressman gets very close.
H.A.: What specific steps could VA Secretary Eric Shinseki (or his replacement, should he resign) take to begin cleaning this mess up?

M.C.: The first thing that Shinseki’s replacement needs to do is to get rid of the bureaucrats who have surrounded Shinseki and have created the unacceptable culture that exists within the Department. Shinseki’s replacement should first fire all of those senior bureaucrats around him that have helped create a culture where the mission of VA leadership has been to serve themselves and not to serve those who have sacrificed so much in defense of our nation. That would send a clear message to the rank and file, most of whom want to be there to help our nation’s veterans, that what the VA has done in inexcusable.

H.A.: We’ve seen this problem at as many seven or more VA hospitals. If the problem were just at one location, you might have a rogue administrator, but at what point do we conclude this was national policy?

M.C.: It may very well have been. The problem is that we are staffing these agencies with people who are not very good at serving our veterans, but are very good at giving bonuses to each other. If they do well on paper they get a bonus. And this leads to a culture of corruption.

H.A.: We provide great service to veterans while they are in service, but it seems to fall apart in the civilian world. Should the VA be run directly by military personnel?

M.C.: Going back to Vietnam we’ve done our best for our soldiers when we keep them in direct military service all the way through the entire rehabilitation process. That’s because the military is a true meritocracy which rewards results. The federal civil service system is not. It tolerates, or possibly rewards, mediocrity if not incompetence and corruption.

Seven Books

Our guest on Midrats yesterday, William S. Lind, gave an interesting book selection - his "Canon."

Worth a ponder.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The American Officer Corps, and a record of defeat. William S. Lind interview, on Midrats

Since WWII, have we developed an officer corps that has not only developed a record of defeat, but has become comfortable with it?

Is our military leadership structurally unsound?

In his recent article, An Officer Corps That Can’t Score, our guest today makes a scathing inditement of the officer corp of the United States in from the structure is works in, to its cultural and intellectual habits. 

To discuss this an more today this Sunday at 5pm Eastern for the full hour will be Mr William S. Lind, Director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism at the Free Congress Foundation.

Mr. Lind has degrees from Dartmouth College and Princeton University.

In DC, he worked as a legislative aide for armed services for Senator Robert Taft, Jr. and Senator Gary Hart until joining the Free Congress Foundation in 1987. 

He isthe author of the Maneuver Warfare Handbook (Westview Press, 1985); co-author, with Gary Hart of, America Can Win: The Case for Military Reform (Adler & Adler, 1986); and co-author, with William H. Marshner, of Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda (Free Congress Foundation, 1987). 

Looking forward, in the closing years of the Cold War, Mr. Lind co-authored the article, "The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation," which was published in The Marine Corps Gazette in October, 1989 and which first propounded the concept of "Fourth Generation War."

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

Sunday Funnies

Ummm, Senior ....

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fullbore Friday


Attention to Citation:
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Specialist Kyle J. White, United States Army.

Specialist Kyle J. White distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a radio telephone operator with Company C, 2nd Battalion Airborne, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade during combat operations against an armed enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan on November 9, 2007.

On that day, Specialist White and his comrades were returning to Bella Outpost from a shura with Aranas village elders. As the soldiers traversed a narrow path surrounded by mountainous, rocky terrain, they were ambushed by enemy forces from elevated positions. Pinned against a steep mountain face, Specialist White and his fellow soldiers were completely exposed to enemy fire. Specialist White returned fire and was briefly knocked unconscious when a rocket-propelled grenade impacted near him.

When he regained consciousness, another round impacted near him, embedding small pieces of shrapnel in his face. Shaking off his wounds, Specialist White noticed one of his comrades lying wounded nearby. Without hesitation, Specialist White exposed himself to enemy fire in order to reach the soldier and provide medical aid.

After applying a tourniquet, Specialist White moved to an injured Marine, providing aid and comfort until the Marine succumbed to his wounds. Specialist White then returned to the soldier and discovered that he had been wounded again. Applying his own belt as an additional tourniquet, Specialist White was able to stem the flow of blood and save the soldier’s life.

Noticing that his and the other soldiers’ radios were inoperative, Specialist White exposed himself to enemy fire yet again in order to secure a radio from a deceased comrade. He then provided information and updates to friendly forces, allowing precision airstrikes to stifle the enemy’s attack and ultimately permitting medical evacuation aircraft to rescue him, his fellow soldiers, Marines, and Afghan army soldiers.

Specialist Kyle J. White. Extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company C, 2nd Battalion Airborne, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the United States Army.
He said it well,
In a brief statement to reporters after Tuesday's ceremony, White called the Medal of Honor "a symbol of the responsibility all soldiers knowingly face when they depart for distant lands in defense of the nation, a responsibility that locks us all in the bonds of brotherhood." 
As such, White couldn't help but think about his brothers in arms. 
"Without the team," he said, "there could be no Medal of Honor. That is why I wear this medal for my team."

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Barack Obama - Savior of the Republican Party

I'm going to blaspheme a bit, but stick with me here.

Regulars here know that in the last two elections, I voted - reluctantly - for John McCain and Mitt Romney. Neither were my first choices, I was a Giuliani and Pawlenty guy, but as I have a natural aversion to leftists, entitled snobs, I could not even think of voting for President Obama. Oh well, such are the glories of democracies.

It wasn't long after the 2008 election - actually it started for me before the election - that it became clear that a President McCain would be the one could put the Republican Party in the bin with the Whigs.

He liked nothing more than sticking it to those who were supposed to be closest to him, and it seemed his second joy was to the the one who showed how awesome he was by being the one that let the other political side win.

That would have been what would have destroyed what little loyal Republican base he should naturally have. What would have brought the rest of the country naturally against him and further destroyed the Republican brand, would have been his desire to put American boots on the ground hither and yon.

Our nation is tired of foreign wars. Though I think Obama has been too detached - imagine the political left of this nation with a killer drone policy even more robust than it is now, along with thousands of American forces across the swath of the Maghreb and the Levant from Tripoli to Aleppo and who knows where else.


Then in 2012 we have Mitt. Mitt would have been a much better leader and President than either McCain or Obama - especially in foreign policy - but he would have been the death of the Republican party, as his tendency to act in a way that delights his enemies and confounds his friends is well outlined by John Tamny at RCM;
Perhaps what's most offensive about Romney's flip flop is that he no doubt knows the minimum wage is superfluous for the majority, while harmful to a small, impoverished minority. Romney's hardly a fool, and having revived sick businesses on the way to great wealth, he surely knows wage mandates help no one, and certainly don't help businesses.

All of this is offensive because it speaks to a politician who will say anything to curry favor with voters; the real world implications of his views be damned. Looking back to 2012, Romney was no doubt similarly aware that his professed policy of getting "tough on China" was not only an economically illiterate stance, but also one that, if implemented, would bring about global economic harm, a stock market crash, and if world history is any guide, perhaps war.

When we consider Romney's overtly political utterances in a broader sense, what's increasingly apparent is that the former candidate is rather self-unaware when it comes to winning votes. This matters because despite what we hear, the electorate in total isn't stupid. Not only has the electorate historically tuned out politicians running on economy-sapping protectionist planks, but the electorate is increasingly wise to politicians so public with their lack of conviction.

Considering the Republican Party itself, members of it should view the 2012 results with relief. Not only were Romney's promises about what he would do about China easily more economically crippling than anything President Obama proposed, it should also be said that Obama's re-election was the best thing that ever happened to the freedom movement. Indeed, the electorate got to see up close the horrors of big government in the form of Obamacare's implementation, and the long-term result will be a more skeptical electorate about politicians who define themselves through promises made with the money of others.

The Republicans dodged a bullet in 2012 with Mitt Romney's aimless candidacy. This was obvious back then, but was made even more obvious last week in light of his latest utterance. The former candidate will truly "Say Anything," and because Romney's that way, the GOP would have lost ground had he won.
Part of me believes that both the Republican party and the nation are better off with McCain being elected. I have grown to think that with Romney, the nation would have been better, but the Republican party would have imploded.

Doesn't really matter - we have President Obama until early 2017.

Oh, in case you are wondering who Salamander of Lost Causes prefers at this point - Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI).

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Neo-fascism is a symptom, not the disease

A very good bit on the rise of 21st Century fascism and specifically the strange visuals of this spring in the former Soviet Union by Timothy Snyder over at The New Republic;
We easily forget how fascism works: as a bright and shining alternative to the mundane duties of everyday life, as a celebration of the obviously and totally irrational against good sense and experience. Fascism features armed forces that do not look like armed forces, indifference to the laws of war in their application to people deemed inferior, the celebration of “empire” after counterproductive land grabs. Fascism means the celebration of the nude male form, the obsession with homosexuality, simultaneously criminalized and imitated. Fascism rejects liberalism and democracy as sham forms of individualism, insists on the collective will over the individual choice, and fetishizes the glorious deed. Because the deed is everything and the word is nothing, words are only there to make deeds possible, and then to make myths of them. Truth cannot exist, and so history is nothing more than a political resource. Hitler could speak of St. Paul as his enemy,Mussolini could summon the Roman emperors. Seventy years after the end of World War II, we forgot how appealing all this once was to Europeans, and indeed that only defeat in war discredited it. Today these ideas are on the rise in Russia, a country that organizes its historical politics around the Soviet victory in that war, and the Russian siren song has a strange appeal in Germany, the defeated country that was supposed to have learned from it.
The neo-fascist black shirts are all over the place in Europe - as are those who flirt with them and hang out just at the edges of political acceptability. While the black shirts dress-right-dress; in red square, the red banner flies again on May Day. 

Neither the black or the red are as well defined as their 20th Century grandfathers. Heck, the black shirts aren't even on the same side of the barricades. You can find the pro-Ukrainian neo-fascists and the pro-Russian neo-fascists facing off against each other - all the while, especially on the Russian side, complaining about the Nazis "over there" they are actually funding. It is different this time.
From my eye, it is less a frightening view than a pathetic and slightly comical one. The foot soldiers of modern fascists are a sloppy bunch in appearance, and ill-disciplined in their politics. Some of their leaders may have a bit of sense about them, but nothing in mass. That is, in a way, a good thing. You really can't dominate a nation, gain, and keep popular support when you look and act like a shi-ite sandwich. You can make a mess, but not a movement.

That being said, actual neo-fascists of the flabby type are growing in power from Greece to Ukraine to Russia and those who flirt with them range across France, The Netherlands and elsewhere. They may not be the neat, organized and focused divisions of black-shirts from the 20th Century, but that doesn't make them less of a threat to a healthy democratic system. They still make news and are gaining membership among the young - the question is, why?

From my end it is simple; the mainline political parties have failed their people. Ever more self-focused and detached from the people they are supposed to represent - especially in the European Parliament. As a result, the people are less vested in their mainstream politicians, and the mainstream politicians are less vested in the people.

When many people cannot find an outlet for their concerns and worries - or worse feel dismissed that their heart-felt concerns are "fringe" - then they search out for a new political home. If the only place they can find someone who at least pretends to share their concerns happens to be a bit unsavory, many will shrug and join for a bit. As a result of association, some become more radicalized.

As this gathers strength, some parties start to drift towards the edges of acceptability. The center - the key to any proper functioning republic - thins; and edges grow in weight and the whole system becomes unstable. There is a reason the radicals scream, "NO CENTER!" Disorder and chaos have always been the friend of authoritarianism.

The center is where peace and compromise is made. The radicals cannot have that ...

Radicals in red and black have no interest in keeping a stable system. If the European political classes are inept in keeping focus on the core function of the system, then the center no longer holds the balance of power. 

Not the end of history, just a turn of the wheel.
Whereas European integration begins from the premise that National Socialism and Stalinism were negative examples, Eurasian integration begins from the more jaded and postmodern premise that history is a grab bag of useful ideas. Whereas European integration presumes liberal democracy, Eurasian ideology explicitly rejects it. The main Eurasian ideologist, Alexander Dugin, who once called for a fascism “as red as our blood,” receives more attention now than ever before. His three basic political ideas—the need to colonize Ukraine, the decadence of the European Union, and the desirability of an alternative Eurasian project from Lisbon to Vladivostok—are now all officially enunciated, in less wild forms than his to be sure, as Russian foreign policy. Dugin now provides radical advice to separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine.
Russia has a large hand in this thinning out of the center all the way to the Bay of Biscay. Center becomes center-right or center-left. Center-right becomes far-right. Same happens on the left. Far-right puts on the black shirts - and the far-left joins them with red flags in the streets.
Putin now presents himself as the leader of the far right in Europe, and the leaders of Europe’s right-wing parties pledge their allegiance. There is an obvious contradiction here: Russian propaganda insists to Westerners that the problem with Ukraine is that its government is too far to the right, even as Russia builds a coalition with the European far right. Extremist, populist, and neo-Nazi party members went to Crimea and praised the electoral farce as a model for Europe. As Anton Shekhovtsov, a researcher of the European far right, has pointed out, the leader of the Bulgarian extreme right launched his party’s campaign for the European parliament in Moscow. The Italian Fronte Nazionale praises Putin for his “courageous position against the powerful gay lobby.” The neo-Nazis of the Greek Golden Dawn see Russia as Ukraine’s defender against “the ravens of international usury.” Heinz-Christian Strache of the Austrian FPÖ chimes in, surreally, that Putin is a “pure democrat.” Even Nigel Farage, the leader of the U.K. Independence Party, recently shared Putin’s propaganda on Ukraine with millions of British viewers in a televised debate, claiming absurdly that the European Union has “blood on its hands” in Ukraine.
Amazing work. Again, don't blame Putin - blame tone-deaf EuroElites.

This is all so sad, and so avoidable. After all the misery and loss brought to Europe by the red and black over the last 100 years, still - they come back.

There is still time for the center to come back in Europe - but it has to grow a spine. It has to acknowledge that there are legitimate issues that they refuse to address that are drawing good people to the fringes - they can start with immigration restriction and a nod to positive nationalism. Make meaningful steps in these two areas, and you will take the steam out of the black shirts and their red counterparts. 

They will have to take some steps that may not get them invited to all the fun parties they want to be invited to - but it will save their political system and what is left of the fruits of the enlightenment from the darkness that is creeping in on the edges. 

Hat tip Pawel.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Hagel's Transgender Bender

"We haven't defined enough ..." "Continually look at ... "

Good googly moogly, Sunday dodgeball at its worst. 

OK, URR is right again. I continue to stand by my support of the repeal of DADT, but am not shocked that the sexually obsessed bullies will always keep pushing - but really SECDEF - tucked in or not, show some balls.
The prohibition on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military "continually should be reviewed," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday.

Hagel did not indicate whether he believes the policy should be overturned. However, he said "every qualified American who wants to serve our country should have an opportunity if they fit the qualifications and can do it."
Hopefully he is getting well sourced, professional advice,
A panel convened by a think tank at San Francisco State University recently estimated that about 15,450 transgender personnel serve in the military and in the National Guard and Reserve.

I think about all the Sailors I helped show the door to due to one "personality disorder" or another that made them not compatible with military service and a disruption to good order and discipline.

Bless their hearts, and I wish them well - but a person so distracted by their sexual identity that they feel the need to have a wig and a beard is about only good for a PSYOPS trolling of Putin. They don't belong in 75-man berthing on one day, and then put in a chit to move to forward female berthing the next. That isn't h8, that is just logic. The fact that the SECDEF can't find a way to say that in a kind, even handed way just shows how terrified he is of what should be a simple subject.

ABC US News | ABC Entertainment News

Oh well, I guess this week is drag week.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day Midrats Best of with Jeannette Haynie and Robyn Roche-Paull

For the career minded Naval professional, to have a chance for the greatest advancement and promotion, you have to push and push hard. The reputation you build in your first 10 years sets the tone for the rest.

Except for very rare exceptions, there are no second chances. There are no pauses, one iffy set of orders, one poorly timed FITREP, and you are on an off-ramp. You must work harder, you must sacrifice, and if you are to have a family young, you need a very strong support structure.

For men - there is always the RADM Sestak, USN (Ret) option; wait until post O6, then start the family your peers did 20-yrs ago. For women though, there are some hard biological facts.

The average American woman gets married at age 26. For college-educated women the average age at first birth is ~30. If you want to have more than 2 kids, you need to start earlier. Mother Nature has her own schedule that doesn't often match yours.

With women making up more of the military than ever, what are the challenges out there biological, cultural, psychological, and relationship wise to "making it happen?"

You can't have it all - but how do you get the best mix you can?

We will have two guests on to discuss this and more starting today at 5-pm Eastern. For the first half hour we will have Major Jeannette Haynie, USMCR, a 1998 graduate from the US Naval Academy, AH-1W Cobra pilot, and currently a Reservist flying a desk at the Pentagon and working through graduate school - and fellow blogger over at USNIBlog.

The second half of the hour, our guest will be Robyn Roche-Paull, US Navy Veteran, wife of a Chief, ICBLC, and author of the book Breastfeeding in Combat Boots.

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, May 10, 2014

Maybe SECNAV Speaks German?

A couple of things:
1. This is the German version of TheDailyShow.
2. Germans still don't get humor that well, but they're trying.

Hat tip HotAir.

Friday, May 09, 2014

Fullbore Friday

If you were 18 when the war started, the arch of your life to that point had roughly been:

- Born in the optimism after WWI, right in the middle of the roaring 20s.
- You grew up in the pre-vaccination, pre-anti-biotic era.
- Your most formative years were during the Great Depression with the economic, social, and environmental nightmare that was the 1930s.
- You found yourself at the other end of the world at the prime of your life. Hundreds of thousands of your countrymen dead in a world that just killed roughly 74 million people ... yet your nation stood athwart the free world dominate and growing.
- By the time you were a 30-something, that Depression child was driving his new '57 Chevy to his new ranch home and working on his third kid. In your 40s at the cusp of your generations power, you brought the long overdue but ripe Voting Rights and Civil Rights Act ... then the wheels came off.
- In the 30-years since that Chevy, you found that your generation screwed up the Vietnam War, destroyed its cities with urban renewal, brought the NYC of the gritty 1970s, Jimmy Carter, and everything else. The kids you gave everything to squandered your gift, as you left them so much, and in turn you saw them leave their kids nothing but student loan debt, the world's greatest debtor nation, and a wreckage of a popular & family culture to clean up.

As I look a back 30-years from today for Gen-X and younger, in a way we are lucky. Compered to the Greatest Generation, besides a few things, there is not all that much different from 1984 to 2014. Imagine the Greatest Generation though; what a different 30-yr arch from 1941 to 1971. From biplanes to man on the moon. Then again, we've gone from space shuttles to riding in the back of Russian capsules, but that is perhaps a topic for another day.

In any event, yesterday was VE Day and had me pondering that Generation leaving us - and before we have too much of a pity party in our relatively peaceful world - let's take a moment to recognize that even though they got some things wrong - they got a lot more right and for better or worse, gave us the world we have.

State by State, in WWII they earned it fullbore;
U.S. Army and Army Air Force Casualties
Alabama (5,114)
Arizona (1,613)
Arkansas (3,814)
California (17,022)
Colorado (2,697)
Connecticut (4,347)
Delaware (579)
District of Columbia (3,029)
Florida (3,540)
Georgia (5,701)
Idaho (1,419)
Illinois (18,601)
Indiana (8,131)
Iowa (5,633)
Kansas (4,526)
Kentucky (6,802)
Louisiana (3,964)
Maine (2,156)
Maryland (4,375)
Massachusetts (10,033)
Michigan (12,885)
Minnesota (6,462)
Mississippi (3,555)
Missouri (8,003)
Montana (1,553)
Nebraska (2,976)
Nevada (349)
New Hampshire (1,203)
New Jersey (10,372)
New Mexico (2,032)
New York (31,215)
North Carolina (7,109)
North Dakota (1,626)
Ohio (16,828)
Oklahoma (5,474)
Oregon (2,583)
Pennsylvania (26,534)
Rhode Island (1,669)
South Carolina (3,423)
South Dakota (1,426)
Tennessee (6,528)
Texas (15,764)
Utah (1,450)
Vermont (874)
Virginia (6,007)
Washington (3,941)
West Virginia (4,865)
Wisconsin (7,038)
Wyoming (652)
Territories of the U.S. (1,179)

U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard Casualties
Alabama (1,071)
Arizona (289)
Arkansas (800)
California (6,702)
Colorado (745)
Connecticut (968)
Delaware (117)
District of Columbia (353)
Florida (1,086)
Georgia (1,053)
Idaho (353)
Illinois (3,665)
Indiana (1,458)
Iowa (1,380)
Kansas (935)
Kentucky (1,113)
Louisiana (1,037)
Maine (401)
Maryland (770)
Massachusetts (2,996)
Michigan (2,530)
Minnesota (1,474)
Mississippi (623)
Missouri (1,850)
Montana (308)
Nebraska (670)
Nevada (76)
New Hampshire (326)
New Jersey (2,182)
New Mexico (224)
New York (5,207)
North Carolina (1,378)
North Dakota (313)
Ohio (3148)
Oklahoma (981)
Oregon (913)
Pennsylvania (4,142)
Rhode Island (488)
South Carolina (730)
South Dakota (299)
Tennessee (1,199)
Texas (3107)
Utah (375)
Vermont (159)
Virginia (1,262)
Washington (1,505)
West Virginia (963)
Wisconsin (1,349)
Wyoming (187)
Territories of the U.S. (572)
Compared to other nations, we lost so few - and the scale of that war should remind us that 416,800 was few; we are #7 in number of military deaths.