Monday, June 30, 2014

Former Obama Ambassador to Iraq, shorter: the fracking fracker is fracked

Is he right or wrong - especially if it impacts the USA? Time will tell.

One thing I do know is this; without leadership, there will never be the support of the American people for much more than we are already doing. You will not find that from the present Administration. As a result, we will have a little experiment.

With the - I can't believe I am saying this - more nimble Russians coming in to help, can the Shi'ite Iraqi Army beat back ISIS - or are we going to watch a growing terrorist Army right in the heart of where we spent the better part of a decade fighting to keep it out of?

UPDATE: You can stop calling it ISIS now;
The al Qaeda breakaway group that has seized much of northern Syria and huge tracks of neighboring Iraq formally declared the creation of an Islamic state on Sunday in the territory under its control.

The spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, made the announcement in an audio statement posted online. Islamic extremists have long dreamed of recreating the Islamic state, or caliphate, that ruled over the Middle East for hundreds of years.
Al-Adnani said that with the creation of the caliphate, the group was changing its name to just the Islamic State, dropping the mention of Iraq and the Levant.
It IS what it IS, I guess.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Asking the right questions to build the right leaders, with Major Matt Cavanaugh, US Army - on Midrats

Is the profession of arms, as the Navy believes it is, primarily a technical job for officers - or is it something else?

To create the cadre of leaders one needs, do you train them as empty vessels that one only needs to fill up with what you want or an empty checklist to complete - or do you train them by helping them bring out their ability to lead and make decisions through informed critical thinking?

Our guest for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and more will be Major Matt Cavanaugh, US Army.

As starting point for our discussion, we will use some of his recent articles at WarCouncil, Ten Questions West Point Does Not Ask Cadets - But Should, Another Ten Question West Point Does Not Ask Cadets - But ShouldWhat Cadets Should Study - and Why Military History is Not Enough, and Rubik's Cubes and Contemporary Warfighting.

Matt is currently assigned as an Assistant Professor in military strategy at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Prior to this assignment, Matt was a Strategic Planner at the Pentagon, after service with the with Second Squadron, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment with multiple deployments to Iraq from Fallujah, Ramadi, and Tal’Afar.

Matt earned his Master’s in Strategic Studies at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and is currently at work on a PhD dissertation on generalship at the University of Reading (UK). He is a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Civil Military Operations, has been published with several peer-reviewed military and academic journals, and is the Editor at, a site dedicated to the study of the use of force. Matt has represented the United States in an official capacity in ten countries, including: Iraq, Kuwait, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Latvia, and Great Britain.

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

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fullbore Friday

An encore FbF today, and one of my favorites.

Training. Drills. PMS. PQS. Attention to detail.

Do you do just the minimum, or do you ask for extra time to get it better and better? Do you train and inspect hard? How many times have you gone through different scenarios with your crew?

Do all your watch standers know how critical their position and responsibility is? From the OOD to the YN3 on the 50cal.; do they appreciate that they are as important as the Commanding Officer?

Discipline. Discipline and obedience in the time of stress, strain, and unimaginable threat to life an honor. Have you and your crew's training been built to refine and demonstrate those qualities? How do you address shortcomings? Are your Chiefs and First Class focused, demanding, masters of their team and
As the Sydney approached the starboard beam of the larger Kormoran, the cruiser used a daytime searchlight to flash the signal “NNJ,” the maritime code ordering the merchant ship to identify herself. After a delay, the Kormoran ran up the signal flags of the Dutch vessel Straat Malaaka, although their location ahead of the freighter’s single large funnel purposefully made it difficult for the Sydney’s spotters to read. The warship requested the freighter to re-position the flags, and as German crew slowly complied, the distance between the two ships, still sailing due west, shrank to a mile.

“Where bound” came the second signal flashed by the Sydney. “Batavia” was the reply from the Kormoran, indicating the capital of the Dutch colony of Java lying over a thousand miles to the north.

Aboard the German raider, Detmers and the bridge staff watched the exchange of signals anxiously and urged the enemy cruiser to sail away and leave them alone. Their fear rose when they saw the Sydney’s crew prepare to launch the spotter plane from the amidships catapult. The plane, once airborne, would easily spot the hundreds of naval mines strewn about the Kormoran’s high deck, giving away its identity as a raider. But the launch crew apparently received new orders and returned the plane to its storage position.

According to the recollections of Heinz Messerschmidt, a 26-year-old lieutenant commander aboard the Kormoran at the time, Detmers turned to his officers and reassured them again, “Ah, it's tea time on board. They'll probably just ask us where we are going and what cargo and then let us go on.”

By luck and guile the Kormoran had survived for almost a year by preying on isolated Allied merchant ships. But this was its first encounter with a warship brandishing guns of equal firepower. Still playing on its disguise as a helpless merchantman, the Kormoran’s radio operator began broadcasting the alert signal “QQQQ” meaning “suspicious ship sighted.” The anxious signal likely confused the Sydney, whose radio operator would have received the transmission, as did a wireless station 150-miles away in the Australian coastal town of Geraldton.

As the parley continued, the distance between the two ships shrank to less than a mile. Lookouts on the Sydney scanned the freighter for suspicious markings or signs of weapons.

But carefully concealed behind special screens and tarps on the Kormoran’s decks was an arsenal of naval guns, torpedo tubes, and anti-tank guns, all manned, loaded, and trained on the unaware cruiser. Later investigations would attempt to determine why Captain Burnett approached so closely to the Kormoran, or if he was lured into false sense of security.

Although both ships possessed guns of similar caliber, the Sydney’s fire control system and experienced turret crews only would be an advantage at longer ranges. Whether by inexperience or trickery, the Sydney’s vulnerable position would soon turn perilous. Over an hour after the cruiser first sighted the freighter on the horizon and gave chase, Burnett ordered the Sydney to flash the signal “1K”–one half of the secret Allied call sign for the Straat Maalaka—across the short gap between the ships. The actual Dutch freighter of that name had a codebook with the corresponding two-letter response. The Kormoran did not. Detmers realized that the time for hiding was over. He ordered the Dutch flag taken down and the German naval ensign run up the mast as the camouflage screens fell away to reveal the line of gun barrels trained on the Sydney. The Kormoran’s 5.9-inch guns fired first, while the rapid-fire anti-tank and machine guns opened up on the officers visible on the cruiser’s bridge. It was shortly after half past five in the afternoon.

The first two 5.9-inch salvos from the Kormoran missed the Sydney, according to reports from the German gunners. But the third volley crashed into the bridge and gun director tower, crippling the cruiser’s ability to return accurate fire just seconds into the battle.

Meanwhile, the raider’s anti-tank and machine guns raked the Sydney’s bridge, presumably killing or wounding many of the officers standing there. Other guns sprayed the exposed portside 4-inch gun mounts and torpedo tubes, preventing their crews from manning them. According to German witnesses, the gap between the two ships was between 1,000 and 1,500 yards—a distance more appropriate for the muzzle-loading cannons of Trafalgar than the rapid-fire guns and high explosive shells of the Second World War.

The Sydney’s first response was a salvo of 6-inch rounds that passed over the now exposed raider. However, the next shells from the Kormoran smashed into the cruiser’s forward “A” and “B” turrets and put them out of action. Another German shell exploded the spotter plane amidships, spilling burning aviation fuel over the decks and black smoke billowing into the sky. Sydney’s “X” and “Y” turrets located in the rear of the ship continued to fire under local control for a few more minutes, but only the crew of “X” achieved hits, sending three rounds into the high-sided freighter. One shell struck amidships, and another punched into the engine room. But the third shell tore through the raider’s funnel, severing the oil warming lines and sending burning fluids cascading down into the motor room to ignite a major fire.

At about this time the Kormoran reportedly launched two torpedoes; at least one struck the Sydney between the mangled “A” and “B” turrets tearing a huge gash in the bow and igniting even more fires. Locked together like two wavering boxers, the warships exchanged constant blows that crippled them both within a few minutes. A storm of shells swept across the water as impacting rounds blossomed into fireballs and pillars of smoke from burning fuel climbed into the evening sky.

Fifteen minutes after firing began, the stricken Sydney made a sudden turn to port, passing close behind the Kormoran and allowing the raider’s rear guns to engage the previously sheltered starboard side of the cruiser. But the Sydney’s turn also permitted her crew to launch a spread of four torpedoes at the raider, all of which missed.

By this time the fires in the Kormoran’s engine room had spread to destroy the machinery, causing the freighter to stop in the water. The Sydney limped slowly away to the south still under fire, down severely at the bow and burning ferociously. Around six o’clock the now immobile Kormoran loosed a final torpedo from an underwater tube at the fleeing Sydney that apparently missed. The 5.9-inch guns on the raider continued to engage the cruiser for another half hour as the range increased and darkness fell. The Germans’ last view of the Sydney came a few hours after sunset—a burning glow on the distant southern horizon that slowly flickered and faded away.

Detmers soon realized that the Kormoran’s uncontrollable fires threatened the hundreds of volatile mines stored on the deck. He ordered his crew to set scuttling charges and abandon ship. Without panicking, the German crew launched lifeboats and watched as the charges detonated along the ship’s keel shortly after midnight, sinking the Kormoran on her 352nd continuous day at sea.

Of the raiders crew of 397 officers and men, 317 survivors reached the Australian coast over the next few days. And in an outcome that has fueled controversy ever since, neither the Sydney, nor her crew of 645 officers and men, were ever seen again.
That is why we have standards. That is why we have qualifications. That is why we should demand excellence and discipline. Are your standards and expectation focused for the same reasons as Fregattenkapitän (Commander) Theodor Detmers? An epic story.

BZ to ewok40k for pointing out that KORMORAN has been found, and as Matt tells us, the SYDNEY has been found as well.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

They Hard Truth About American Fecklessness

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry over at The Week gives everyone a clear eyed look in the mirror about the significant damage that continues to be done to the reputation if the USA.

It is hard to argue with him. This can be fixed, but it will take time and better, more long-term strategic thinking from leaders than we have now;
States are, in Nietzsche's words, the coldest of all cold monsters. But not all states are as untrustworthy as the United States. Imperial Britain was ruthless. But it was rationally ruthless. This is not the case for America. When America intervenes in a country, forms local alliances, and then screws its allies, it is almost never because of cold-hearted calculation. Most of the time, it is because of frightened improvisation. All the cases I have laid out involve America pulling out of a half-finished conflict, primarily for domestic political reasons, rather than reasons of national interest.

Please understand my point: In each of these particular cases, you can debate the case for or against what America did, and in some, or even many, America might have even done the right thing. But you are still left with the problem that groups of non-Americans trust the American state at their own peril.

And it really is a big problem for U.S. foreign policy. If you lead an important faction in a country where America intervenes, why should you help the Americans, since the record so clearly shows they will drop you when the going gets tough?

This leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy: Because America is not seen as trustworthy, local stakeholders don't support America; because local stakeholders don't support America, the going gets tough; because the going gets tough, America gets going. This is pretty much what happened to the U.S. in Afghanistan. That self-fulfilling prophecy leads to a never-ending, vicious cycle.
But here's the thing: Despite everything, America really is "the indispensable nation."

The world's shipping lanes, and with it its trade, and with it the global economy, are protected by the U.S. Navy. We hear a lot about war, but we don't hear about the many regional conflicts that don't happen because the world has a largely benevolent (though often clueless) hegemon instead of being the plaything of jostling regional blocs. U.S. security guarantees ensure peace in the Pacific, Europe, and, still, important chunks of the Middle East.

... the world is kept sorta-peaceful and sorta-prosperous because all over its map are, ahem, red lines, drawn by American security guarantees. But, if America continues to be so untrustworthy as an international actor, how long until there is a "bank run" on American security? Already, Chinese officials are watching America's response, or lack thereof, to the defiance to Uncle Sam's global order in Ukraine and Syria. The world is a big chessboard, and moves in one place affect the rest of the board.

This is a problem that is bigger than any country or any region. It's a fundamental problem with how America approaches the world. And the biggest problem is that no one seems to be aware of the problem, or only dimly.

How to fix it? Well, the first step is to admit you have a problem. But perhaps I can offer a suggestion, or just a wish. Perhaps if America actually had a strategy for how to deal with the world; perhaps if America viewed the world as something definite to embrace and work on, rather than an amorphous blob out there; perhaps if America actually had a sense of mission, rather than necessity, about its role in the world; perhaps then it would feel a bit ashamed to so rarely honor its commitments.

Diversity Thursday

In a similar way the climate change fanatics think that little changes in what the USA does with its hyper-modern coal plants will somehow make up for the rest of the planet's dirty coal, wood, fuel oil, and animal dung burning billions - and in doing so just advertise their ignorance as to the nature and scale of the rest of the planet - so do we find such blinkered localism among the American diversity industry's cadres.

Yes, as we are told over and over again; our racist, sexist, homophobic, and generally evil culture needs to be destroyed so it can be like the unicorn riding tolerance of the rest of the world ...

Ummmm ... yea.

How about that Latin American multi-culti glory?
Mexico coach Miguel Herrera downplayed a homophobic chant that Mexican fans hurl at opposing goalkeepers during matches, arguing that it’s just a “folksy” part of the game, and is not being used in discriminatory fashion.

Herrera told Mexico’s Radio Red on Friday that fans who chant the word “puto” during Mexico games are not attempting to offend homosexuals.

“This is something that’s used to pressure the opposing team’s goalie…it’s something that we’re not really worried about,” Herrera said from Mexico’s training camp in Brazil.
... but wait, that other evil of Amerikkka is coming ... cultural imperialism!
However some soccer commentators in Mexico have argued that the chant reflects discriminatory attitudes towards homosexuals which are prevalent in Mexican society. They have suggested that the Mexican Soccer Federation launch a campaign that would encourage fans to stop using the homophobic slur.

Mexico’s National Commission to Prevent Discrimination (CONAPRED) also weighed in on the debate earlier this week, issuing a scathing statement against the use of this chant, and urging FIFA to take actions to stop fans from using it.

OK, that machismo may be hard to work through - but it is good to see that nice Anglo-Saxon tradition of growing inclusiveness is getting some traction south of the border.

In living memory in my glorious South, we had a few not-so-nice "folksy" ways ... we modernized and made them no longer proper in polite company. I think this Latin "folksy" habit may need to go - though the 13-yr old Sal in my brain does think it is funny. 

At least they don't sound racist ... wait ...
When Sanchez started viewing the games on Univision he was surprised at what he heard from the Spanish-speaking commenters.

“Most recently was a characterization related to an Afro-Costa Rican player describing him not by his last name but by the color of skin, calling him ‘moreno,’” said Sanchez.

Sanchez noticed other charged words like "greña" being used by broadcasters.

“Greña really means messy hair but some individuals think of it as referring to African American hair and also describing it as ‘nappy’ hair,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez posted his linguistic concerns on Facebook and received many, many replies from other American Latinos like himself who were offended by the language being used by sportscasters.

“When English language leaning Latinos watch Spanish language programming there’s a culture clash that occurs because the kind of social progress that we live in, in our mainstream world doesn’t always seem to be reflected in programming that is not English language programming,” said Sanchez.

Outside of the US, these cultural slurs and epithets are not necessarily seen in the same light in other parts of the Spanish-speaking says Sanchez.
Yes, some heads are exploding. This is delicious to me;
That doesn’t mean that Sanchez wants to water down the commentary or make it bland. He tuned in to Univision for the Spanish language style of calling a game, a style that is evocative and full energy.
So, if I may roughly translate the Spanish in a rough way with words-that-should-not-be-put-down, any day now we can hear a shrug from the cultural commissariat as thousands of Philadelphia Eagle fans scream, "F@GGOT!" at every extra point,as the color commenters in the booth - no pun intended - talk about the nappy-haired darkies in the secondary? 


Some in my ancestral lands in Mississippi had ways of speaking about their neighbors in, "... a style that is evocative and full energy." Would Sanchez defend them? I hope not.

Wrong is wrong. It doesn't matter if you roll your r's or not; its wrong.

Yea to USA - we have come a long way in the right direction. 

Of course, those who have travelled through the world with open ears and eyes have known for quite awhile what most of the world it like. Though we Americans still have work to do - next time some diversity bully starts to bleat about how difficult things are here - speak up for your nation. 

We're OK. They need to get out more.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

CS21 Rev.1 Pre-show: Shadow Boxing Without a Light

When does schmaltz hide substance? When has good thinking become too socialized, chopped through too many stakeholders, overstaffed to the point there is nothing to grab hold of?

If you put yourself out there in front of some of your best officers, there are a few things to keep in mind; 1. Don't over-promise and under-deliver, 2. Your audience has finely tuned BS meter, and 3. Don't let your talking points get out of phase with what you are actually bringing to the discussion.

As most of you know, we about to see the roll out of the latest version of our maritime strategy. Rumbles and rumors are starting to come out.

Today we have a guest post anon to you, but not to me. A report from the front lines. The CNO has asked for a "crowd sourced" discussion. I don't think he is using that phrase right, but I know what he means. Well, I think he is going to get it.

The best thing for our nation and its navy is the creative friction only an open, critical, enthusiastic, and sharp elbowed discussion will bring out. When it hits the street, I plan to look at it as an invitation, not a solution.

As our author outlines ... perhaps it is best to keep your expectations low and your powder dry.

Shipmate, over to you.

It’s been thirty years since Clara Peller uttered the now well-known phrase “Where’s the beef?” Having just attended the Naval War College’s Current Strategy Forum, I’m left asking the same question. What was touted as an opportunity for the CNO to roll out his updated version of Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power (CS21) came and went with many asking another question: Did I miss something?

Admiral Greenert delivered an engaging and upbeat message addressing the importance of an “all hands on deck” effort to review and reexamine CS21. Suggesting that nobody has been seriously thinking about maritime strategy for the past few years, CNO took off his coat, rolled up his sleeves, and announced that now is the time to get down to work. Unfortunately, getting down to work will prove difficult, because ADM Greenert chose not to share any of his CS21 updates with the hundreds of mid-grade and senior officers in attendance. Perhaps in keeping with his statement, “if you talk about it openly, you cross the line and unnecessarily antagonize,” he instead chose to assemble a small group of hand-selected officers for a late afternoon roundtable discussion. An attendee described the focus group as a perfunctory “check in the block” where the only topic discussed was the PowerPoint outline of what the strategy brief might look like – not the actual strategy.

Admiral Greenert kicked off the symposium by stating, “Everyone – from junior, mid, and senior officers, to scholars, civilians, and retirees – owns a piece of this [strategy].” The problem is that not “everyone” was provided the requisite material to get to work. Why? Is it so heavily classified that it could not be discussed in an open forum? If that is the case, it would stand in stark contrast from previous strategies. Further, if our governing maritime strategy is too sensitive to discuss openly, is it really focused at the strategic level, or have we again mistaken tactics for strategy? Has the CNO grown self conscious of, or as he stated, overly concerned with unnecessarily antagonizing the Chinese? If that is the case, the CNO might have been wise to cancel the entire Current Strategy Forum, since while much of what was discussed during the two-day symposium was enlightening, the overwhelming theme was one of PRC/US alarmism. Does the CNO not really desire an open, “crowd-sourced” discussion (as he suggested)? If that is true, one must ask why he went to such lengths imploring the audience to roll up their sleeves and get to work. Or, is it the case that there are no appreciable changes to the Navy’s grand maritime strategy, and that this version so closely mirrors each previous edition as to be indistinguishable from them, save for new platforms (read: LC$ and J$F procurement). This seems to be the most likely answer. After all, maritime strategy (and military strategy writ large) hasn’t actually been about strategy in a long time.

This bit of the tail wagging the dog is particularly concerning as we sail towards a horizon clouded with fiscal uncertainty. Previous versions of CS21 told us what we were expected to accomplish and to what effect, but came up short of explaining how, and certainly didn’t have an eye toward sequestration. The 2014 rebranding gave the CNO an opportunity to provide an increasingly skeptical Congress (as well as the country in general) reasonably specific objectives and justifications for the funding he’s requested, without trespassing the line of “unnecessarily antagonizing” the Chinese. In choosing to punt, the CNO leaves the door open for us to wonder whether we need LCS and JSF to execute our strategy, or if we’re writing a strategy to justify LCS and JSF.
The author is a carrier aviator and student at the Naval War College. He does not believe Navy leadership fosters an environment such that junior and midgrade officers can write critically, yet respectfully of their seniors.

UPDATE: Solid additional thoughts by SteelJawScribe. Check 'em out.

Monday, June 23, 2014

I detect the GRU at work a bit here ....

OK, the Polish Foreign Minister speaks the rough truth in 2014, and only one party gains from it. Guess who?
Using vulgar language and expletives, Sikorski argued that the Polish-U.S. alliance could alienate two key neighbors of Poland, Russia and Germany.

“The Polish-American alliance isn’t worth anything. It is even harmful because it creates a false sense of security for Poland,” the person said. “(We are) suckers, total suckers. The problem in Poland is that we have shallow pride and low self-esteem.”

While the alleged Sikorski comments do not reveal any illegal actions, if confirmed, they would likely put Poland’s top diplomat on the defensive. The prime minister’s office said Tusk was likely to address the issue Monday.
Sounds like he was having a Salamanderesque moment of grumpyness where you say things that you feel in the back of your mind in private just to get them out of your system ... but would never want to be public. Well, you live in a tough neighborhood Sikorski. 

Why do I think Russia? First of all, they never pass up a chance to troll the Europeans, and more to the point;
Sikorski has been an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and has strongly criticized Russian actions in neighboring Ukraine this year. In the past he was a strong supporter of the United States.

But he has become more critical of Washington in recent years, especially after President Barack Obama’s attempted “reset” of ties with Russia in 2009 and the subsequent scaling-down of the U.S. missile defense plan for Poland and other parts of eastern Europe. Amid recent violence in Ukraine, Sikorski has been calling for a substantial U.S. troop presence on Polish soil.

He has also been widely mentioned as a possible successor to Catherine Ashton as the EU’s foreign policy chief. Poland officially put him forward as a candidate last month.

VA Gangrenous Green

Have you reached scandal overload yet?

Do you find yourself reading and hearing things that make you feel bad - not bad because what you hear is disturbing, disappointing, or bring you to anger - but makes you feel bad because you find yourself just shrugging and moving on?

Well, I had it this weekend, and I'm still not all that pleased with myself.

I quickly rose to an appropriate snit when SECNAV decided to play industrial planner with the Navy's money and time with his Great Green Foolishness, so seeing a military organization playing climate change and green industry games should at least get a rise out of me, one would think.

With the latest scandal at the VA that led to General Shinseki's rather inglorious departure still fresh in the air - this seems sure to be tailor made for outrage, methinks.
VA facilities have become littered with every scheme to banish carbon dioxide short of requiring visitors to hold their breath. Calverton National Cemetery spent $742,034 on solar panels. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery spent $787,308. Not to be out-greened, the Riverside National Cemetery spent $1.3 million on its solar system.
At the Phoenix VA Health Care System, where 20 Americans died from incompetence and cover-up, the department spent $20 million putting solar panels on the hospital roofs. That would have been more than enough money to provide the veterans with the health care they deserved.
It didn't though. Not a first. It isn't just me.

The more I read, the more I realized that it isn't the 2014 parade of Executive Branch scandals that made me numb ... no ... this diversion of VA funds from veterans healthcare to pet projects whose only health benefit seems to be the inner-fuzzies bureaucrats feel spending other peoples money, is not new at all - it is just part of the all-pervading funk.

From 2010;
"Solar power is a natural fit for our home state. This installation offers a tremendous opportunity for Arizona, and acts as a model for the rest of America. It is becoming more and more evident that solar addresses some of the largest challenges we currently face, and SAVAHCS is proactively addressing these issues"
- Gabrielle Giffords, Former Arizona Congresswoman
Follow that link above as well as the final link in this post, and look at all the money they have spent installing solar panels at the very locations where the Death Watch Waiting Lists were. 

Behold the cold crassness of it all. The unmitigated audacity of gall.

We let them get away with it. We were/are numb to the opportunity cost of it all. The VA sure wasn't trying to hide it. No one ever asked the hard questions, so why should they?
The Department of Veterans Affairs has awarded nearly $78 million in contracts to build solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in support of ongoing energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced. "With these investments in clean energy and other renewable energy projects for our medical centers and clinics, we are marching forward with the President's initiative to 'green' the Federal government," VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. "The benefits of using solar power are significant, from our reduced utility bills to the quality of the air we breathe. This initiative is good for Veterans and good for our environment," Shinseki said.
How many veterans have died while waiting for care since 2010? How many referrals to specialists would $78 million buy?
As many as 40 veterans had died while waiting for care and 1,715 veterans in the Phoenix VA Health Care System had waited more than 90 days for an appointment. A retired Navy serviceman died of bladder cancer after being put on a 7-month waiting list after blood was found in his urine. He finally received an appointment a week after his death.
...from 2009 to 2011, the Phoenix VA Health Care System put in solar panels. The solar panels at the Carl T. Hayden VA in Phoenix cost $20 million.
At some South Texas facilities vets had to wait 85 days for a primary care appointment and 55 days for a mental health appointment with “a worst-in-the-nation, 145-day average wait for new patients seeking specialist care.”

One of the vets waiting for a mental health appointment, who suffered from waiting list cheating, committed suicide.

Meanwhile the South Texas Veterans Health Care System installed a 1.7 MW solar PV system.
Hawaii has the longest waiting list for veterans with an average of 145 days for an appointment at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center.

Meanwhile it was spending between $1 and $2 million on a 119 KW Solar PV System.
There is more, read it all if you need to. No wait; read it all. I don't think anyone at the VA thinks this is an issue. For the love of Pete ... look at the pic at the top of the post. Packed waiting room of beaten down and exhausted people (probably being forced to watch AFN PSAs or MSNBC). Only one person being helped. Sad, and almost Soviet in its visuals, yet ... that is the pic used by the VA itself in a "good news story." You can't make this stuff up.

Are leaders incapable of self-reflection? Are the watchdogs incapable of critical thought? Are those of us who served just accepting of being a lesser priority in someone else's political ambitions and financial gain?

There is more than death here - there is pain. How many people suffered with exceptional pain unnecessarily while waiting? 

For the last month, I have been dealing with an exceptionally painful health issue that for the first few days was, well, hard to describe. For those who have been there, you know what I mean. It is the kind of pain that makes everything else but breathing of secondary importance.

When my thick skull and stubborn ego decided things were only getting worse, I immediately went to a highly recommended specialist.

The first thing the doctor asked me was, "You aren't Tricare Prime are you?" I replied, "No, standard." He exhaled and said, "Good. You have to ask them for permission for everything. Here's what we need to do ...." and I was off and running on a path that has made great progress.

I asked him what if I had to rely on the VA. He grimaced and said, "Well, you wouldn't be here and you would be in pain for a very long time."

I can't even imagine. That is me just thinking selfishly and personalizing this, but humor me for a bit. 

What I can imagine is what would have happened if I were in the VA system. Call it self-referential, but right after those who died on lists, what comes to mind when I think of being in the VA system is the thought of me where I was a few weeks ago, then driving long distance to sit in a chair for hours upon hours upon hours to see anyone who could help with the pain, and perhaps days until I could see a specialist - if I were lucky.

That didn't happen to me. I just drove three miles down a road to a specialists who I picked.

The more I think of it, the more insane is the $78 million taken away from health care just so someone could make a PPT slide so the boss could prove to the President that the VA is,
"...marching forward with the President's initiative to 'green' the Federal government,..."
Since when did an organization such as this get in the iffy energy advocacy racket?
Mission Statement
To fulfill President Lincoln's promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans. 
Core Values
VA’s five core values underscore the obligations inherent in VA’s mission: Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, and Excellence. The core values define “who we are,” our culture, and how we care for Veterans and eligible beneficiaries. Our values are more than just words – they affect outcomes in our daily interactions with Veterans and eligible beneficiaries and with each other. Taking the first letter of each word—Integrity, Commitment, Advocacy, Respect, Excellence—creates a powerful acronym, “I CARE,” that reminds each VA employee of the importance of their role in this Department. These core values come together as five promises we make as individuals and as an organization to those we serve.
Integrity: Act with high moral principle. Adhere to the highest professional standards. Maintain the trust and confidence of all with whom I engage.
Commitment: Work diligently to serve Veterans and other beneficiaries. Be driven by an earnest belief in VA’s mission. Fulfill my individual responsibilities and organizational responsibilities.
Advocacy: Be truly Veteran-centric by identifying, fully considering, and appropriately advancing the interests of Veterans and other beneficiaries.
Respect: Treat all those I serve and with whom I work with dignity and respect. Show respect to earn it.
Excellence: Strive for the highest quality and continuous improvement. Be thoughtful and decisive in leadership, accountable for my actions, willing to admit mistakes, and rigorous in correcting them.

I can't speak for others, but maybe it took awhile for it to bother me simply because I expect to be disappointed with the VA. I expect anything involving the Federal Govt to be unfocused and wasteful. Maybe given my experience with the VA, I just wasn't shocked enough to be shocked.

This should not stand, should it? Should I just shrug and move along when over $78 million is spent on vanity projects while those who served their nation die waiting to see a doctor, or cannot sleep for days on end from pain they cannot get help with?

Well - at least we have yoga.

If you have not seen enough, behold the lack of focus, and cry the beloved country.

UPDATE: CNN's Drew Griffin has a great report. His advice is spot on.

Additionally, I would add that action is required by Congress as well. Until they change the personnel rules are changes to allow management to hire and fire as is done in the private sector, the larger problems will not be fixed.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Global Combat Fleets' Development With Eric Wertheim - on Midrats

From the USA, Europe, Russia, to the South China Sea, nations continue to signal where their priories are by what type of fleet they are building.

What capabilities are they expanding, and what capabilities are they letting drift away?

To discuss this and more for the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be returning guest Eric Wertheim.

Eric is a defense consultant, columnist and author specializing in naval and maritime issues. He was named to the helm of the internationally acknowledged, one volume Naval Institute reference Combat Fleets of the World in 2002 - in 2013 published in its 16th Edition.

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

Friday, June 20, 2014

Thursday, June 19, 2014

What I heard at today's POTUS Iraq press conf.

Should the United Kingdom have stayed out of WWI?

The recent events in IRQ have bought out a lot of “Look, my clock is right!” moments that just makes my eyes roll. There have been even more cases of static time-travel analysis and self-second guessing; that is just pathetic.

Just stop. You’re just losing respect from both allies and opponents of your previous position – and it does absolutely nothing for the very real problem at hand.

Some are stating with the events in Iraq as of late that, “I was wrong, we should never have invaded Iraq.” That kind of decade-late moping is an insult to history, logic, and an unnecessary exercise. As if since success in '08 everything froze in place.

Yes ... success. Event President Obama agrees(d)

It is much worse than Monday morning quarterbacking. It is as intellectually lazy as judging historical figures dead hundreds to thousands of years by the modern moral, political, or scientific standards of the 21st century.

At a given place and time, decision makers have to make hard decisions given the facts that they know, or should know, at a snapshot in time. Information is often incomplete, and of the many variables one has in the decision making process, some will be false, some will be negative vice positive indicators of the truth. You cannot expect or claim perfection.

It is fair to look at the same information they had and come to a different recommendation, but it has to be done ignoring the subsequent events they were not aware of. A very difficult exercise with even the best minds.

It is also fair to make statements such as, “If they had only known X in time, then their might have been a different path taken.” It is not fair to take a decision made in, say, 2003 – freeze it, ignore all the following decisions, events, paths not taken, change, multiple iterations of responses to changes – and then over a decade later, look at where things are and say, “See!”

We should be so lucky as to be able to time travel, but we can’t. Along a timeline, victories can be turned in to defeat, and defeats in to victories – all due to known and unknown variables that change over time. Causal event chains have an infinite number of branches from creation to the crack of doom, so you have to be responsible on how you judge events in their time and place.

What is happening now in Iraq was not inevitable. It could have been avoided by different decisions being made at one time or another – and the next part is key - we know what the present is. What we do not know is what alternative presents there could have been if different decisions were made at various points in time.

It is the height of arrogance to think that the situation we have right now is better or worse than any other "present." If we never invaded Iraq in 2003, the alternative 2014 could have been better … or could have been very worse. We simply do not know. All we know is the now.

In my 20s & 30s, I read a lot of alternative histories like Robert Harris’s Fatherland and so on. They are fun in this respect; they give you an appreciation of the role of chance and chaos in this world, and the need to bend and adjust to changes, to not be rigid in your perceptions and expectations. History always wins, for better or worse.

Using the present standard of belly-button picking logic I have been reading in the last week from some, one can clearly argue that the United Kingdom should not have blindly followed its commitment to Belgian neutrality and coordinated planning with the French in the lead up to WWI. 

With the slaughter of WWI & II, and the warping effects of Fascism and Communism that were the bastard children of the Great War – then those who say we should have never invaded Iraq should, to maintain consistency, state that it would have been better for all involved if the Central Powers were allowed to defeat France and Russia in WWI; that the United Kingdom should have sat on the sidelines. If they had, Italy would have. The USA would have … and most likely today there would still be a German Emperor, an Austro-Hungarian Empire, and any growing Islamic radicalization would be a problem of the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire; or maybe not.

Of course, this is all very silly.

In summary, be careful with hindsight – and don’t be a smug, know it all jerk. That is the job of a blogger.

Diversity Thursday

Sometimes, a post really does write itself.

First of all, I want you to think about the importance of our best minds building their intellectual capital to support a better future leaders in the national security area.

One way to do that is to send officers to civilian institutions to pursue their PhD, and then use that knowledge when they return. In theory, in the pursuit of ... well ... whatever the mission of a military is.

Starts out like this;
I would like to thank the Department of Navy for providing me the opportunity to
professionally develop and attend the university of my choice for focused, full time study. I am grateful to the United States Marine Corps key gatekeepers and stakeholders for allowing me access to conduct research.
Of course, serious years out of an officer's career, and a fair bit of the national treasure - but a good investment so we can better address the challenges facing this nation from China to Russia to the Islamic World to this Hemisphere.

What would we want from such an investment? What would we want a PhD on the government dime to focus on? URR, gird your rather substantial loins.

Of course;
BEHOLD in all its glory below or download here. Find your favorite part - I recommend the interview portions. 

You know it is bad when a pro-liberal arts & pro-female serving blogger finds this over the top. 

You can find the author's name in the document ... I'm not putting it here because this shouldn't be about her ... but the ideas the Department of the Navy thinks it needs so much that it will pay for someone to get a PhD in such things.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Retro Wednesday

1950s Iraq;
"...alive with the bustle of a young people who are taking back from the West the means to a brighter future."

A few decades of proper, if a bit rough colonial rule ... set things up and running ... give them the keys with the last British bases closed in 1955 ... and then ... in 1958 the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party took power ... and, well, you read the news.

I won't get too cocky though ... here was 1961's Detroit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pierre Sprey, co-designer of the F-16 - off the top-rope on F-35

Where I am in full alignment with him is the effect of "Joint" and the foolishness of the F-35 in CAS. 

Joint must die.

Shrugging at the Abyss

In Ramadi, protesters raised black jihadi flags, representing the extremist Al Qaeda offshoot that had dominated the city during the American occupation. “We are a group called Al Qaeda!” a man shouted from a stage in the protesters’ camp. “We will cut off heads and bring justice!” The crowd cheered.
She looked at me with tired eyes. “We are going into—how do you say it?” she said.

The abyss?” a colleague offered.

“Yes—the abyss,” Edwar said. “Yes, yes, yes.”
And so, after so much by so many - that is where we find ourselves in mid-2014 in Iraq.

For this post at least, let's not look back at where we were, what was, and would-could have been - no - let's look at where we are. Facts on the ground have changed, leadership has changed, and the mood of the American people is at a different place.

A few basics first:
1. The Obama Administration has no desire to engage the US military in any foreign entanglements of significant size and duration. This is not a pacifist Presidency - it is a disentanglement one. It will avoid, retreat, and turn away. It does not care to think long term, and indeed, the true believers are ideologically incapable of seeing any long term positive outcome from foreign use of American military power in a decisive manner. It is as foreign to them as a fish is to beat-box.
2. Even if we had a President who decided to lead, it is too late for all that. The American people will not follow. If there is another large scale attack on the USA. the American people will only have time for the most punitive of expeditions - one that is exceptionally nasty, brutish, and short. This Administration will not have its name - we are talking about Obama & Kerry mind you - associated with something so kinetic as this. What would they do? Hard to say, but I doubt anything on order of what the American people would stomach. As a result, a few drone strikes perhaps, combined with a good squirt of ink and a swoosh away.
3. No one wants to die for lines drawn on a map by Brits and French over a century ago, not any more. It is their nature.

What was once the Most Dangerous Course-Of-Action just a decade ago - one that thousands of Americans and her allies died to avoid - has now become the most likely COA. What is that? Regional sectarian conflict starting with an Iraqi civil war including direct Iranian intervention from the Levant, to the Gulf States, eastern Saudi Arabia, down through to the Bab-el-Mandeb - with a few ethnic conflicts thrown in for good measure as it probably grows beyond a pure Sunni-Shia war. For Iraq - the once laughable Biden option of breaking the nation in to three parts seems inevitable. It isn't that Biden was right; at the time he was wrong - it is just that the calculus and facts on the ground have changed. With time, even Biden can be right.

In summary - everything that is being done on the ground right now makes the project of a united Iraq only an excuse for civil war. There will be a war if you want united Iraq or to break it in to parts - perhaps we should let them work it out for themselves as nations have done for thousands of years.

Europe has been at relative peace for decades largely for two reasons - it fought itself out in the 20th Century, and after round two, there was a massive amount of ethnic cleansing to finish out the years of blood letting. After the major migrations in Central Europe, there have been minor ones here and there as the process of dis-aggregation continues.

There are no longer Sudeten Germans. Polish towns now have Ukrainian names, and so on. In 2003, Serbs represented 95% Srebrenica's population.

We tried modern methods in the Middle East to create peace, perhaps it is best to let the old ways work themselves out. It is, after all, a local solution. This is not a radical concept;
... there’s a very good chance that a Middle East that was more politically segregated by ethnicity and faith might become a more stable and harmonious region in the long run.

Such segregation is an underappreciated part of Europe’s 20th-century transformation into a continent at peace. As Jerry Muller argued in Foreign Affairs in 2008, the brutal ethnic cleansing and forced migrations that accompanied and followed the two world wars ensured that “for the most part, each nation in Europe had its own state, and each state was made up almost exclusively of a single ethnic nationality,” which in turn sapped away some of the “ethnonational aspirations and aggression” that had contributed to imperialism, fascism and Hitler’s rise.

But this happened after the brutal ethnic cleansing that accompanied and followed two world wars. There’s no good reason to imagine that a redrawing of Middle Eastern borders could happen much more peacefully. Which is why American policy makers, quite sensibly, have preferred the problematic stability of current arrangements to the long-term promise of a Free Kurdistan or Baluchistan, a Greater Syria or Jordan, a Wahhabistan or Tripolitania.
If we do not have the desire to deploy hundreds of thousands of American men and women for force our will on a people who do not want it - then what can we do?

If this is our path - to let go - yet still try to spin things a desired way in the broadest sense, then here are some things to consider. Yes, it will cost blood, but it will be their blood by the barrel and ours by the thimble. It won't turn out perfect ... but when does it ever?

1. Kurds: Release the Kurdish people. Let them carve out their state in northern Iraq and eastern Syria. They deserve it, and will do more with it than anyone else. If they can take and hold Mosul, Kirkut, and Arbil from ISIS and afterwords kick all Arab Sunni out of the area as the Poles did with Germans in East Pomerania, then so be it. Let them draw their own lines. Let the Shia and Sunni of Iraq fight over the rest. If Iran moves in, so be it as well. It won't be long until the Arab v. Persian animosity breaks that in to bits once the holy cities are secure.
2. Israel: Let them do what they must. Anyone that even hints that the Golan is not part of Israel proper should be laughed at. They deserve defendable borders. The Palestinian Arabs have had decades to be helpful they are not. Which leads us to ...
3. Palestinians: They had their chance and they lost. After the bloodbath of the Great Sunni-Shia war, there will be plenty of places in Arab Muslim lands for them to live. If all Gaza is for them only a place to kill Jews from - then they don't deserve it. If the West Bank is just a Gaza-lite, then most of them need to be removed. Give them walking money and a map. There are approximately 4-million Palestinians in the Gaza and West Bank. Since WWII, about 1-million Jews were kicked out of Muslim countries, and even more Christians. They have found lives elsewhere, so can you. Heck, my ancestors were mostly kicked out of their nations of their birth ... so get on with it, you've got lots of company. If Sunni can do it to Shia, Arab to Kurd, Muslim to everyone - then the Jews can too.
4. Jordan: We should do what we can to help protect this nation that has tried more than others to survive and be left alone with bad neighbors. With few resources or holy sites, she might have a chance. As a logical place for expelled Palestinians to go, it may not survive the chaos. Sad. I like their king.
5. Afghanistan: If there is a Shia-Sunni war, it will come to AFG in spades. There you have Shia in the body of the persecuted Hazara. All bets off. Get out of the way and let them fight it out, again.
6. Refugees: Under no circumstances let tens of thousands of refugees from the Shia-Sunni war come to the USA. Help refugee camps in other nations - but keep them out of here. You want that war to come here? Bring them here.
7. Gulf States: Many, especially Kuwait and Bahrain, have significant Shia populations. Others like UAE and Qatar are mostly populated by foreign nationals. What happens when things go sideways? Who knows. Let them work it out.
8: Saudi Arabia: The oil rich parts of Saudi Arabia is also the home of the persecuted Shia tribes. Along with the Gulf States, don't expect it be be a solid anti-Persian block.

There are your eight ponderables. Ugly and nasty? Yes, but when the power that kept much of the post-WWII structure in place decides to retreat from its role - that is what happens.

You either are a global superpower that bends other to its will, or you are not. If not, then events will bend in different directions.

The above is bad enough? How can it get worse?
1. Suez Canal to Indus River: That should be the east and west boundaries of the major areas of the Sunni-Shia war. If it bleeds over either border, you can more than double the death toll - especially the Indus. That could quickly turn in to a Indo-Pak war ... one that in the stress of a broader conflict has a good chance to go nuclear. At that point, it just becomes a general war; Sunni-Shia was just the entering argument.
2. Central Asia: Start with a return to a fighting Chechnya and expand from there. From Turkmenistan to East Turkestan ... do they continue their slumber, or will a leader emerge to add them to the bearded army from Khurasan?
3. Turkey: Will they be happy with a Kurdish state? Will they try to move forces in? Will the Turkish Kurds decide to take advantage ... or more likely, will the Turks act thinking they may?

There are wildcards:
1. China: What will they do when Americans are not willing to expend blood and treasure to ensure the free flow of their oil at market prices?
2. Russia: While they move to nibble on the western fringes of the old Russian/Soviet Empire - what will they do if the Sunni-Shia chaos moves radicalized Islam further north?
3. India: See the Indus River. It isn't like they and Pakistan aren't ready for another round ... and with well over a hundred million Muslims inside their borders, the tinder is there is the heat from outside is enough to light it off.

Where we are looking better:
1. Fracking: True, our larger economy would be significantly impacted from the global economic cratering that would result from such a war, but we have enough North American petroleum that we would not have to rely on the Middle East for fuel.
2. Not Europe: Europe does not have our resources, and has open border to a huge wave of people escaping the carnage such a war would unleash. The Western European nations are already stressed by the millions of non-productive and non-assimilated Muslims already in their nations - the younger generations radicalized and violent in ways their parents and grandparents never were. Add a few million with thousands already radicalized on the sectarian battlefields? 2nd and 3rd order effects for European politics could lose many of the demons that Continent has kept locked away.

Where we are weakest:
1. Economics: It didn't stop WWI, but our global economy would react in unknown ways to such a disruption to the Middle East. In nations that still have not recovered from 2008, there is little room to absorb impact.
2. Debt: The USA and most Western nations are so saddled with debt that even if they managed to find the political will to change course, there is not enough treasure and time to rebuild and reorient. Who would lend the money?
3. Political leadership: If I were wanting to smash and grab on a global scale - now is the time to do it. The USA has signaled weakness for years now - there is no reason to expect an Obama Administration to become a Bush43 or even Truman any time soon. Each crisis emphasizes this fact. Europe is no better, and there are no other players on the globe with the appetite, ability, or institutional culture to do anything but try to keep the beast from breaking in their own front door.

There you go. One morning's pondering on where this Sunni-Shia conflict from Syria and Iraq can potentially bring us.

The above is the Miss Mary Darkcloud thinking. What is the best case? Best case, Syria and Iraq contain their conflicts to their own borders. Besides a few special operations forces in the holy cities in southern Iraq, the Iranians stick to being a meddler. The Shia in the Gulf Stated, Saudi Arabia, and other places follow old habits and do nothing more than march now and then - place a small bomb here and there. Turkey demurs as is her nature; Russia gets lucky; China keeps thinking about the Pacific and growing old.

The USA? We manage to get through this all without getting too many people killed.

All we sacrificed for last decade? That milk was spilled and what should have been won't be. It is what the American people wanted. It is what we got. As we old-line Southerners can tell you - it is no good to go around whistling Dixie.

Monday, June 16, 2014

2014 Navy Retention Study is Out

Hopefully, the regulars from the front porch have already listened to EagleOne and my one hour interview on Midrats with Vice Admiral Bill Moran, USN, Navy Chief of Naval Personnel, and Commander Guy "Bus" Snodgrass, USN, concerning Bus's paper, Keep a Weather Eye on the Horizon.

If not, at least click the link above, and if you can, catch the Midrats episode here.

I'm discussing some of the details over at USNIBlog. Drop by and add your comments as well.

One snarky note I left out of my commentary over there; how do you tell that the primary driver was a Gen-X officer and not one of the Baby Boomers?

Yes ... even on a Monday, I'm going there. No - get over there.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day Best of With Stephen Rodrick

In case you missed it the first time, especially for those whose fathers served in uniform, you owe it to yourself to listen to our interview with Stephen Rodrick about his book, The Magical Stranger: A Son's Journey into His Father's Life.

You will really enjoy the interview, and I cannot recommend the book any greater. Buy it.

Rodrick is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and a contributing editor for Men's Journal. He has also written for New York, Rolling Stone, GQ, The New Republic, and others.

Before becoming a journalist, Rodrick worked as a deputy press secretary for United States Senator Alan J. Dixon. He hold a bachelors and masters in political science from Loyola University of Chicago and a masters in journalism from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.

The show goes live at 5pm Eastern today, 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

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fullbore Friday

I typed out a rather grumpy screed about what is happening in IRQ, AFG, and generally - again - the mess the Democrats have done to the success and blood of others. From the Democrat starving of S. Vietnam in 1975 to the Carter nightmare.

So, we have it with IRQ. I'm not interested in plowing that field again ... so I'm going to go back to the year before we won the war in IRQ for a encore FbF. We can argue how Obama lost the peace later.

How do you define sacrifice? How do you respond to loss? How do you focus pride, grief, love and honor? Do you try to take positive action in the face of a horror you never expected to face? Can you go beyond the emotional and tap into the intellectual? For today's FbF, I ask you to step back , absorb, and most of all - be humble.
His son, Marine Lt. Nathan Krissoff, 25, had been killed in a December 2006 roadside bomb explosion in Iraq.
The younger Krissoff joined the Marines in 2004 with a background that might not have predicted a military career. He wrote poetry as a youngster and was an accomplished pianist.

Before graduating from Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., he was captain of the swim team, in addition to being a whitewater kayaker and alpine skier.

The outdoor activities were a joy shared by Nathan, his father, and his younger brother, Austin, 24, who joined the Marines shortly before Nathan died.

The family kept word of Nathan's death from Austin until after he graduated from the same Marine Corps officer school in Quantico, Va.

"Nate was an extraordinary man in a lot of ways," Bill Krissoff said.
Like many who have lost their loved ones in this war, they had an opportunity to meet with the Commander in Chief, President Bush.
Bill Krissoff never figured to be in a position to look President Bush in the eye and ask a favor.

But there he was, sitting in a room in Reno, Nev., with Bush and several other families who had lost soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"I said, 'Yeah, there is one thing. I want to join the Navy medical corps and I gotta get some help here,' " recalled Krissoff, 61, who lives in California, near Reno.

Three days after that meeting, the Navy called.

His waiver had been granted.
What waiver?
Months later, Krissoff came to a carefully considered decision: He would honor his son by leaving a flourishing orthopedic practice, a comfortable life, to join the Navy as a combat surgeon.

But his application for an age waiver was mired in paperwork.

So, on that August day in Reno, when Bush went around the room and asked if there was anything he could do, Krissoff spoke up.
That is how the CINC got involved. You get action that way.
Krissoff was commissioned as a lieutenant commander Nov. 18, and he expects to attend officer development school in January. Attached to the 4th Medical Battalion, he plans to join a combat surgical team and hopes to serve in Iraq.

It is a story of loss and sacrifice being told on national media outlets. But Krissoff considers himself anything but a hero. He reserves words like that for people such as his son.

"The loss of a son puts a certain perspective on things.

"It's my turn to serve. I'm honored and privileged that the Navy will have me in the medical corps," Krissoff said.
This was a family decision.
He and his wife, Christine, plan to sell their house and move to San Diego. They see it as another chapter in their life, perhaps a way to ease the grief they have shared for nearly a year.

"Really, I'm just inspired by the dedication to service of both my sons," Krissoff said.

Christine Krissoff, 56, has made peace with his choice as well. But it doesn't mean she won't miss her husband.

"I am not fine with the amount of time he's gone. But none of the wives of the military people who serve are going to be fine with it.

"That's just part of the deal."

His mother, Sylvia Krissoff, 88, said she was "shocked" when she learned what he planned to do. Then it started to make sense to her.

"I think, for him, it really is great. It's really an extension of his love for Nate and, in some ways, carrying on for what Nate would have done.

"Nate would have been so proud of him."
LCDR Krissoff and Christine - welcome aboard. Your response to your son's death and your other son's ongoing service is, simply, Fullbore. Thank you.