Archive for the 'War and Peace' Category
Posted by David Foster on 29th December 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
Here’s a Rudyard Kipling poem which isn’t as well known as some of his other ones:
There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.
They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long,
That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four !
They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”
(read the whole poem here)
What reminded me of this poem?
Apparently, in 2012 the average time to complete a VA disability or pension claim was 262 days, up from 188 days in the prior year and far above the official target of 125 days. More at Nextgov.
I’m not very impressed with the excuses offered by the VA for this situation:
VA officials attribute the backlog, defined as claims in the system for more than 125 days, in part to higher demand by veterans returning from 10 years of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with severe and complex injuries.
A Texas Veterans Commission official noted that the agency is caught in a “perfect storm” of claims from veterans of recent wars and those from aging Vietnam and Korea veterans whose disabilities are worsening.
But wasn’t this all predictable? Obviously wars cause injuries, and better battlefield medical attention means that more wounded soldiers will survive and hence need extended care. And wasn’t the higher claims rate “from aging Vietnam and Korea veterans” largely predictable from simple demographic analysis? I’m reminded of the saying about a British railroad from several decades ago: ”Despite its frequency and general regularity, Sunday morning seems to consistently catch this railroad by surprise.”
The above remark about the railroad notwithstanding, private enterprises generally seem to be able to deal with fluctuating demand and other problems quite well. There is almost always food in the supermarkets, despite droughts, crop failures, logistical problems, strikes, etc etc. The electricity is almost always on despite storms and electrical failures. And while businesses generally do a better problem than government at dealing with daunting arrays of problems, some government agencies do manage to deal with demand increases and fluctuations far better than the VA seems able to do with these disability claims. Somehow the FAA manages to conduct air traffic control safely and effectively despite the increased demand that occurs in holiday seasons and the varied and often nefarious effects of the weather. The military itself often manages to quickly deploy forces and equipment to far-distant locations. Why has the VA been unable to modify its processes to provide resolution of disability claims in a timely manner?
Sad and disturbing.
Posted in Aviation, Big Government, Health Care, Management, Tech, Transportation, War and Peace | 10 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 19th December 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
Blondie and I hit Sam’s Club last weekend for some holiday oddities and endities, and as we were heading out to the parking lot, Blondie remarked that everyone seemed rather … subdued. I couldn’t really see that the other customers were any more depressed than usual, wheeling around great trollies piled full of case-lots and mass quantities than any other Sunday, as I am still trying to throw the Cold From Hell – now in it’s third week of making me sound as if I am about to hack up half a lung. But that is just me – good thing I work at home, the commute is a short stagger to my desk, where I do the absolute minimum necessary for the current project, and another stagger back to to bed, take some Tylenol, suck on a cough drop and go back to sleep for several hours. The cats like this program, by the way – a warm human to curl up close to, on these faintly chill December days. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Blogging, Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Holidays, Personal Narrative, Politics, War and Peace | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 7th December 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
He really wore a black hat, this particular villain; he was known and recognized throughout the district around Fredericksburg and the German settlements in Gillespie County – by his fine, black beaver hat. Which was not furry, as people might tend to picture immediately – but made of felt, felt manufactured from the hair scraped from beaver pelts. This had been the fashion early in the 19th century, and made a fortune for those who sent trappers and mountain-men into the far, far west, hunting and trapping beaver. The fashion changed – and the far-west fur trade collapsed, but I imagine that fine hats were still made from beaver felt. And J.P. Waldrip was so well-known by his hat that he was buried with it.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, History, Terrorism, War and Peace | 4 Comments »
Posted by Trent Telenko on 7th December 2012 (All posts by Trent Telenko)
It isn’t often that a book utterly alters my understanding of the past, but the book “ECHOES OVER THE PACIFIC — An overview of Allied Air Warning Radar in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to the Philippines Campaign” by Ed Simmonds and Norm Smith has done just that for me regards for both WW2 in general, and for today, Pearl Harbor.
ECHOS is the story of Australian and wider Aglosphere efforts to field radar in the Pacific during WW2. I am still reading it at page 60 of under 300 pages — but it has these passages regards Pearl Harbor:
Page 18 –
The following is summarised from Radar in WWII by Henry E Guerlac and an article ‘The
Air Warning Service and The Signal Company, Aircraft Warning, Hawaii’ by Stephen L
The strategic importance of Oahu was recognised in late 1939 and the Air Warning Service
(AWS) was to provide warning of approaching enemy aircraft using the newly developed
Extensive negotiations were needed as the sites, for the three SCR271s received in Hawaii on
3 June 1941, were located on land owned by either the Department of Interior National Parks
Service or the Territory of Hawaii. In addition access roads, power supply, water supply,
buildings et cetera had to be constructed – which occasioned even further delay. The net
result was that none of the SCR271s had been installed by 7 December 1941 !
Six mobile SCR270Bs arrived in Hawaii on 1 August 1941 and were shortly thereafter put
into operation because very little site preparation was required. Extensive testing of the sets
was carried out in the next few months on installations at Kaaawa, Kawailoa, Waianae and
Koko Head, Schofield Barracks and Fort Shafter.
On 27 September 1941 the SCR270Bs were tested in an exercise which, in retrospect,
resembled to a remarkable degree the actual attack of 7 December. The exercise began at
0430 hours. Attacking planes were detected by the equipment at Waianae and Koko Head as
they assembled near the carrier from which they had taken off 85 miles away. When they had
assembled, the planes headed for Hawaii. The ‘enemy’ were clearly seen on the cathode ray
tube and fighter aircraft were notified within about six minutes. They took off and intercepted
the incoming bombers at about 25 miles from Pearl Harbour.
Under the control of the Signal Corps, Air Warning, Hawaii, the Schofield training SCR270B
was moved to the site at Opana about two weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbour. The
construction of a temporary Combat Information Centre (CIC) was in progress and training
of the personnel at the centre was under way with reporting coming from six mobiles
SCR270Bs. Ironically the program was to hand the CIC over to the Air Corps when the
installation had been completed and the personnel had been properly trained – scheduled for
about two weeks after Pearl Harbour.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes, Japan, Military Affairs, Okinawa 65, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 14 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 7th December 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
A date which will live in infamy
See Bookworm’s post and video from 2009 and her post from 2011; also, some alternate history from Shannon Love.
In 2010, Neptunus Lex posted a video of FDR’s speech, accompanied by relevant newsreel footage. See also his eloquent post from 2006.
Last year Jonathan worried that the cultural memory of the event is being lost, and noted that once again Google failed to note the anniversary on their search home page, whereas Microsoft Bing had a picture of the USS Arizona memorial.
(12/7/2012: same thing this year, at least as of this posting)
Shannon Love analyzes how Admiral Yamamoto was able to pull the attack off and concludes that “Pearl Harbor wasn’t a surprise of intent, it was a surprise of capability.”
Via another excellent Neptunus Lex post, here is a video featuring interviews with both American and Japanese surivors of Pearl Harbor.
Posted in History, Media, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 3rd December 2012 (All posts by Jonathan)
American Jews who voted for Obama, here’s your thanks. Enjoy. You can rationalize your foolishness by blaming everything on Bibi and those nasty Likudniks (never mind that Israeli voters, who paid a high cost in blood for the harebrained appeasement policies implemented between 1993 and 2005, now keep giving the Likud governing pluralities).
As Israel’s “peace partners” become increasingly hostile, Obama and his crew of leftist ideologues, Islamist apologists and Israel haters double down on pressing Israel to risk more lives and treasure while demanding nothing of Israel’s adversaries. But hey, we don’t want anyone to accuse us Jews of having dual loyalties, do we? Better to support Obama’s failed policies that weaken the USA and its allies. Or something. Intellectually, I sort of understand how leftist Jews can put partisan politics above national interest and self-interest, or (most likely, I think) can define national and self-interest as synonymous with the goals of leftist partisan politics. But emotionally, I don’t get it. Why wouldn’t you eagerly support a democratic country run by your own people and allied with the USA, against the warlords, dictatorships and gangster satrapies that would destroy it? Another one of life’s mysteries.
Posted in Israel, Jewish Leftism, Middle East, Obama, Politics, War and Peace | 26 Comments »
Posted by Jay Manifold on 2nd December 2012 (All posts by Jay Manifold)
“On the afternoon of December 2, 1942, the Atomic Age began inside an enormous tent on a squash court under the stands of the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field. There, headed by Italian scientist Enrico Fermi, the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction was engineered. The result—sustainable nuclear energy—led to creation of the atomic bomb and nuclear power plants—two of the twentieth century’s most powerful and controversial achievements.”
I was there halfway between then and now. I am a by-product of the Manhattan Project, being the son of a onetime rifleman in an infantry platoon who was on a troopship in the Pacific on August 6, 1945, in transit for Operation Downfall. He went to the Philippines instead, and never heard a shot fired in anger. I did not matriculate at Chicago to repay a debt – which is fortunate, because as things went, the University spent a good deal of money on me for (so far) no return whatsoever.
Earlier today I went to a lecture, “Talking Tolkien: War and J.R.R. Tolkien,” in the appropriately subterranean research center of the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. It was given by Janet Brennan Croft of the University of Oklahoma, who has a book out that I suppose I will buy, to add to the same shelf containing the Hobbit, the trilogy, the Silmarillion, the Letters, and Tolkien and the Great War (all of which were referenced at some point in her talk).
I didn’t hear all that much that was new, but I didn’t expect to. It was well worth going, however; I suppose the biggest “delta” was about how his writing changed after he had children and especially when two of them served in the military in WWII. She also pointed out that all the heroic leaders in the trilogy lead from the front, while the villainous leaders are far in the rear, the equivalent of the “chateau generals.”
Another insight was how much the “black breath” and Frodo’s melancholia resemble PTSD. In combination with her remarks about parent-child relationships, this caused me to ask a question about what turns out to be Letter #74, written to Stanley Unwin on 29 June 1944, which includes the sentence: “I have at the moment another son, a much damaged soldier, at Trinity trying to do some work and recover a shadow of his old health.” – a reference to his son Michael, who was pretty severely PTSD’d for a while. So out of slightly morbid curiosity, I asked if she knew anything more about that episode. She did not but said that there are probably more letters, unpublished, that would have details, and perhaps they will eventually see the light of day.
Scripture reading in church this morning was Isaiah 2:1-5. Verse 4 is of course poignant in light of today’s anniversary. If we really are entering the Crisis of 2020, those swords won’t be beaten into plowshares any time soon. Indeed, some future analog of December 2nd, 1942, presumably involving nanomachinery rather than tons of graphite blocks and lumps of enriched uranium, will happen in a laboratory somewhere in the world in another decade or so.
Posted in Book Notes, Britain, Chicagoania, History, Military Affairs, Personal Narrative, Religion, Science, War and Peace | 4 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 28th November 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
An interesting article about the development of this Israeli weapons system at the WSJ.
The American Sidewinder air-to-air missile system was also initially developed in something of a skunkworks environment. (Management consultant Tom Peters has used Sidewinder as a good example of successful skunkwork innovation, IIRC, though I can’t find a link at the moment)
Somewhat related: My post about Bernard Schriever and the development of the American ICBM.
Posted in Israel, Management, Middle East, Tech, War and Peace | 22 Comments »
Posted by Lexington Green on 19th November 2012 (All posts by Lexington Green)
1 Lord God, to whom vengeance belongeth; O God, to whom vengeance belongeth, shew thyself.
2 Lift up thyself, thou judge of the earth: render a reward to the proud.
3 Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph?
4 How long shall they utter and speak hard things? and all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?
5 They break in pieces thy people, O Lord, and afflict thine heritage.
6 They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless.
7 Yet they say, The Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Jacob regard it.
8 Understand, ye brutish among the people: and ye fools, when will ye be wise?
9 He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?
10 He that chastiseth the heathen, shall not he correct? he that teacheth man knowledge, shall not he know?
11 The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.
12 Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law;
13 That thou mayest give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit be digged for the wicked.
14 For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.
15 But judgment shall return unto righteousness: and all the upright in heart shall follow it.
16 Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?
17 Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul had almost dwelt in silence.
18 When I said, My foot slippeth; thy mercy, O Lord, held me up.
19 In the multitude of my thoughts within me thy comforts delight my soul.
20 Shall the throne of iniquity have fellowship with thee, which frameth mischief by a law?
21 They gather themselves together against the soul of the righteous, and condemn the innocent blood.
22 But the Lord is my defence; and my God is the rock of my refuge.
23 And he shall bring upon them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; yea, the Lord our God shall cut them off.
Posted in Islam, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Religion, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 7 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 13th November 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
It looks really weird to me, this last Veteran’s Day weekend … not even a week after the election results came in. A couple of days after General Petraeus put in his resignation as head of the CIA – conveniently for the American news cycle – on a Friday before a three-day weekend. So, kind of astonished over that – a mere several days before he was to testify about whatever was going on with regard to our quasi-official establishment in Benghazi on the 11th of September last. Of course, the second most astonishing aspect to me is that the head of the CIA can’t keep an affair secret, and the third most astonishing is that someone so politically wily as to be able to pin on four stars would still be stupidly reckless enough to engage on such a very public affair. What, were they doing the horizontal mambo in the middle of the parade ground at reveille at whatever base they were at in Afghanistan? Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Deep Thoughts, Diversions, Just Unbelievable, Military Affairs, Obama, War and Peace | 19 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 11th November 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
Music Video: The War was in Color
Some thoughts from 2011 and earlier, by Neptunus Lex
Speaking of Lex, Friday was his birthday. His three kids, known to blog readers as SNO, Biscuit, and Kat, offer remembrances of their father here.
Some photographs of WWI battlefields today, via this 2011 post from Sgt Mom.
Posted in History, USA, War and Peace | 8 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 8th November 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
A statue of this British-Indian woman, who served as an agent for the WWII British underground organization known as Special Operations Executive, has been unveiled in London. BBC story here. (Thanks to Lexington Green for the heads-up)
I wrote about Noor in this post. Also:
A review of a book by Leo Marks, who was SOE’s Codemaster
Posts about other SOE agents:
Posted in Biography, Book Notes, Britain, Europe, France, Germany, War and Peace | 1 Comment »
Posted by David Foster on 2nd November 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
An old-media news organization has finally gotten around to doing some serious reporting on the Benghazi debacle. Sharyl Attkisson of CBS has a story that is very much worth reading. Some excerpts:
CBS News has learned that during the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Mission in Benghazi, the Obama Administration did not convene its top interagency counterterrorism resource: the Counterterrorism Security Group, (CSG).
“The CSG is the one group that’s supposed to know what resources every agency has. They know of multiple options and have the ability to coordinate counterterrorism assets across all the agencies,” a high-ranking government official told CBS News. “They were not allowed to do their job. They were not called upon.”
Counterterrorism sources and internal emails reviewed by CBS News express frustration that key responders were ready to deploy, but were not called upon to help in the attack.
The Administration also didn’t call on the only interagency, on-call, short notice team poised to respond to terrorist incidents worldwide: the Foreign Emergency Support Team (FEST). FEST’s seasoned experts leave within four hours of notification and can provide “the fastest assistance possible.”
In the days after the assault, counterterrorism officials expressed dismay over what they interpreted as the Obama Administration’s unwillingness to acknowledge that the attack was terrorism; and their opinion that resources which could have helped were excluded.
The report also cites a counterterrorism expert who says he knew, as soon as he heard enemy mortar rounds hitting the building with our people in it, that this must have been a pre-planned attack rather than a “spontaneous uprising,” in view of the technical complexities of accurate mortar fire. Yet 5 days later, on September 16, the Obama administration sent U.N. ambassador Susan Rice around to the talk shows to assert its “spontaneous protest over a video” theory.
Read the whole thing here.
At a minimum–at a bare minimum–the Benghazi affair reveals a dismal level of incompetence pervading the Obama administration. There is also reason to believe that it reveals decison-making about life-and-death matters based on this President’s desire to preserve his “narrative,” rather than facing reality and acting upon it. And, I suspect, the more we learn about what happened in Benghazi, and why it happened, the more disturbing the answers are going to be.
I’m currently re-reading the memoirs of General Edward Spears, who was Churchill’s emissary to France in 1940. There was a disturbing amount of defeatism, and in some cases actual sympathy with the Nazi enemy, among certain government officials and other French elites. Weygand’s friend Henri de Kerillis, a Deputy and newpaper editor, had been consistently pressing Prime Minister Daladier to investigate some sinister behavior by members of the extreme Right.
“Il faut de’brider l’abces,” he had said time and time again to the Premier. He had done so again lately and received this strange answer: I have done exactly what you urged, I have opened the abscess, but it was so deep the scalpal disappeared down it, and had I gone on, my arm would have followed.” This was really very frightening, and I said so. “You cannot be more frightened than I am,” said Kerillis.
I feel sure that we are going to find that the abscess revealed by the Obama administration’s behavior re Benghazi goes very deep indeed.
Posted in France, History, Middle East, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 10 Comments »
Posted by Zenpundit on 1st November 2012 (All posts by Zenpundit)
Cross-posted from zenpundit.com
The always interesting John Hagel tweeted a link recently to an old post at Mill’s-Scofield Innovanomics, a blog run by a business strategist and consultant with a science background, Deb Mills-Scofield.
Summer’s Trump Cards
….Culture Trumps Strategy: The best made plans are worthless if they’re not aligned with the culture. Sometimes the strategy can help transform the culture (for good or bad), but if the culture doesn’t support it, it won’t happen. Perhaps that’s why I think CEOs need to be CCS’s – Chief Culture Stewards.
Challenge: Start to check the health of your culture – really, be brutally honest -before the end of August.
This was interesting to me.
Obviously, Mills-Scofield was concerned here with “business strategy” and organizational theory and not strategy in the classical sense of war and statecraft. As Dr. Chet Richards has pointed out, unlike a military leader in war, businessmen are not trying to destroy their customers, their employees or even their competition, but while not the same kind of “strategy”, the underlying cognitive action, the “strategic thinking”, is similar. Perhaps the same.
So, shifting the question back to the original context of war and statecraft, does culture trump strategy?
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Civil Society, History, International Affairs, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Society, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 29th October 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
Tyrone Woods was one of the men murdered at the State Department facility in Benghazi, Libya. His father,Charles Woods, was spoken to at the memorial service (at Andrews Air Force Base) by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden.
Charles Woods did not perceive very much remorse or genuine sympathy on the part of these politicians. While assessing someone’s genuine level of sympathy is of course a subjective matter, what is not subjective is the actual words that are spoken…and the following words, according to Mr Woods, were spoken by Hillary Clinton:
“we’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video.”
We know now, of course, that the Benghazi attack was a pre-planned terrorist operation that had little if anything to do with the video in question. All the evidence, furthermore, is that the Obama administration was aware or should have been aware of this fact at the time, and that their strident and repeated public assertions to the contrary were either reflections of incompetence and opinion-jumping, or were actual deliberate lies. But even if it had been true that the attacks were in response to fury over the video, this would not have justified Hillary’s above statement in any way. Tyron Woods and the others were not murdered by a filmmaker; they were murdered by violent radical Muslims.
What Hillary said is directly analogous to a WWII government official attempting to comfort the grieving father of a soldier killed in battle with Nazi forces by saying:
“we’re going to have Charlie Chaplin arrested and prosecuted for making that movie (The Great Dictator) that got the Nazis so upset with us”
Hillary’s remarks should be offensive not only to all Americans but also to all people everywhere who care about individual freedom.
And what is this about a Secretary of State and a President reaching down N levels into the bureaucracy and demanding that a probation violator be arrested because of his political “crimes”? This is something we would have expected in the Third Reich or in Stalin’s Russia, not in the United States of America.
This administration’s handling of the Benghazi affair makes very clear, as if it wasn’t clear enough already, just how little respect this administration has for the lives and liberties of citizens.
These people are truly morally deficient, in a major way.
–my post What Century is This?
–Don Sensing, a former Army artillery officer, on the Benghazi attack and Flash traffic
Posted in Civil Liberties, Media, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism, USA, War and Peace | 21 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 24th October 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
I wouldn’t have remembered that this week marks another WWII battle anniversary – that of El Alamein which ran for nearly two weeks in October and November 1942 – but for seeing a story or two in the Daily Mail about it. (A reflection upon the death spiral of the mainstream news is that I have a relatively low-brow popular British newspaper among my internet tool-bar favorites, rather than my own local metropolitan publication … alas, that is how low those local newspapers have fallen. Seriously, stuff shows up on the Daily Mail page days before it does in strictly American-oriented media. Sorry about that, San Antonio Express News.)
That second battle at El Alamein which broke the back of the Axis, revived Allied morale, and saw the beginning of the end of any attempt by the Germans to get control of the Suez Canal was a significant turn in that campaign in the deserts of North Africa. The fighting mostly involved British and Commonwealth and a scattering of Free Polish troops against the Germans and Italians; back and forth in Egypt and Libya almost as if it were a sea battle – fought not in water, but in sand. It’s a matter almost out of historical memory, especially for Americans who really only got involved at the tail end. Our memories of the desert war are mostly retained in movies like Casablanca, or a television series like The Rat Patrol.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes, History, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 16 Comments »
Posted by Zenpundit on 23rd October 2012 (All posts by Zenpundit)
Colonel Harry Tunnell
Michael Yon recently published a remarkable and courageous letter by US Army Colonel Harry Tunnell to the Secretary of the Army regarding deficiencies in our military operations in Afghanistan. Colonel Tunnell is now retired, but the letter was sent while he was on active duty in 2010. Yon calls it “stunning” and I wholeheartedly agree. It is a “must read“.
Colonel Tunnell is a controversial figure in the Army. A bluntly outspoken critic of COIN with strong views on military professionalism and tactical leadership, he served as a commander of combat troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq, where he was badly wounded. Overcoming his injury, Colonel Tunnel returned to command a Stryker brigade in Afghanistan and clash with his ISAF superiors over his use of older Army doctrine on counter-guerrilla operations instead of the pop-centric COIN of FM 3-24. Tunnell aggressively and repeatedly attacked the Taliban in his area of operations, pressing them, which resulted in frequent combat and casualties on both sides – something that was out-of-step with ISAF’s tactical guidance. Several enlisted soldiers in the Stryker brigade were convicted of the infamous “Kill Team” murders which led to Tunnell being investigated and cleared by the Army which found no causal responsibility from Tunnell’s advocacy of aggressive tactics but nonetheless reprimanded him for “poor command climate”.
In light of Tunnell’s letter to the Secretary of the Army, interpret that administrative action as you wish. Afterwards, Colonel Tunnell continued to be a harsh critic of COIN and the focus of periodic, extremely one-sided, negative stories in the media.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Military Affairs, USA, War and Peace | 6 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 16th October 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world dangerously close to thermonuclear war.
I’m currently reading Rockets and People, the totally fascinating memoir of Soviet rocket developer Boris Chertok. A review of the whole thing will be forthcoming in the not too distant future.
Chertok’s career encompassed both military and space-exploration projects, and in late October 1962 he was focused on preparations for launching a Mars probe. On the morning of Oct 27, he was awakened by “a strange uneasiness.” After a quick breakfast, he headed for the missile assembly building, known as the MIK.
At the gatehouse, there was usually a lone soldier on duty who would give my pass a cursory glance. Now suddenly I saw a group of soldiers wielding sub-machine guns, and they thoroughly scrutinized my pass. Finally they admitted me to the facility grounds and there, to my surprise, I again saw sub-machine-gun-wielding soldiers who had climbed up the fire escape to the roof of the MIK. Other groups of soldiers in full combat gear, even wearing gas masks, were running about the periphery of the secure area. When I stopped in at the MIK, I immediately saw that the “duty” R-7A combat missile, which had always been covered and standing up against the wall, which we had always ignored, was uncovered.
Chertok was greeted by his friend Colonel Kirillov, who was in charge of this launch facility. Kirollov did not greet Chertok with his usual genial smile, but with a "somber, melancholy expression."
Without releasing my hand that I’d extended for our handshake, he quietly said: “Boris Yevseyevich, I have something of urgent importance I must tell you”…We went into his office on the second floor. Here, visibly upset, Kirillov told me: “Last night I was summoned to headquarters to see the chief of the [Tyura-Tam] firing range. The chiefs of the directorates and commanders of the troop units were gathered there. We were told that the firing range must be brought into a state of battle readiness immediately. Due to the events in Cuba, air attacks, bombardment, and even U.S. airborne assaults are possible. All Air Defense Troops assets have already been put into combat readiness. Flights of our transport airplanes are forbidden. All facilities and launch sites have been put under heightened security. Highway transport is drastically restricted. But most important—I received the order to open an envelope that has been stored in a special safe and to act in accordance with its contents. According to the order, I must immediately prepare the duty combat missile at the engineering facility and mate the warhead located in a special depot, roll the missile out to the launch site, position it, test it, fuel it, aim it, and wait for a special launch command. All of this has already been executed at Site No. 31. I have also given all the necessary commands here at Site No. 2. Therefore, the crews have been removed from the Mars shot and shifted over to preparation of the combat missile. The nosecone and warhead will be delivered here in 2 hours.
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Cuba, History, Russia, Space, USA, War and Peace | 11 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 14th October 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
(The transcript is here)
In the last post, I reviewed Biden’s comments about the Benghazi debacle; now I’d like to discuss his thoughts about Iranian nuclear weapons.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: When my friend talks about fissile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20 percent up. Then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know we’ll know if they start the process of building a weapon. So all this bluster I keep hearing, all this loose talk — what are they talking about?…We will not allow the Iranians to get a nuclear weapon. What Bibi held up there was when they get to the point where they can enrich uranium enough to put into a weapon, they don’t have a weapon to put it into…Facts matter. All this loose talk about them — all they have to do is get to — enrich uranium in a certain amount and they have a weapon — not true.
It is extremely important to understand that, while one might think going from 20% uranium enrichment to the 90% that is required for a nuclear weapon, means that one is only 20/90 of the way there, this is not correct. The first steps in enrichment require more effort–more centrifuges, more energy–than the later steps, because the amounts of mass that must be dealt with are much greater. The nuclear industry actually has a metric, “separative work units,” to measure this. Enriching uranium from a standing start to 5.6kg of highly enriched uranium requires about 1270 SWU, whereas if you start with a feedstock that is already 20% enriched, you only need less than 200 SWU. Even if you begin with material enriched only to the level needed for a power reactor, only about 400 SWU are needed: a savings of 3:1 compared with starting from scratch. (Here’s another analysis with slightly different numbers but making the same point…4% enrichment is much more than 4/90 of the way there, and 20/90 is far more than 20/90 of the way there.)
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Posted in Iran, Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, War and Peace | 5 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 14th October 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
(The transcript is here)
First, let’s look at this interchange on Libya:
MS. RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on for weeks?
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Because that’s exactly what we were told —
MS. RADDATZ: By who?
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: — by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment. That’s why there’s also an investigation headed by Tom Pickering, a leading diplomat in the — from the Reagan years, who is doing an investigation as to whether or not there were any lapses, what the lapses were, so that they will never happen again. But —
MS. RADDATZ: And they wanted more security there.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security again. We did not know they wanted more security again. And by the way, at the time we were told exactly — we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view. That’s why I said, we will get to the bottom of this.
Who is this “we” of whom Joe is speaking? It would appear that “we” refers specifically to himself and to President Obama.
The President is supposed to run the executive branch of government. It is not the function of an executive to passively wait for information to be provided to him. It is rather his responsibility to ensure that people, systems, and procedures are in place to provide him with the information that he needs…more broadly, to establish an information and decision architecture so that information flows where it is needed and appropriate actions are taken on a timely basis. Obama, like his boss, thinks like an “individual contributor,” as the term is used in business and other organizations, not like an executive. Biden and Obama are concerned not with the performance of the overall organization but rather with how they look, believing that the two can be separated.
If a ship runs aground because the executive officer put one incompetent sailor on the radar scope, and another incompetent sailor on as visual watchman, it is most unlikely that the Captain will be able to save his career by saying “Nobody told me about that reef up ahead.”
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Posted in Middle East, Politics, Terrorism, War and Peace | 5 Comments »
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 12th October 2012 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
A clownish Joe Biden mugged, groaned and interrupted Paul Ryan for 90 minutes last night. It was an odd spectacle but, apparently, just what the Democrats wanted. He lied about the Libya story and now Bill and Hillary Clinton may be thinking rebellion. Biden strongly suggested that the State Department was to blame for the murders because they did not ask for more security, in spite of the testimony before Congress the day before. If Hillary thinks she sees the bus coming, she may jump ship and it won’t be pretty.
With tensions between President Obama and the Clintons at a new high, former President Bill Clinton is moving fast to develop a contingency plan for how his wife, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, should react if Obama attempts to tie the Benghazi fiasco around her neck, according to author Ed Klein.
Biden also lied about Iran and their nuclear ambitions. He dismissed the danger of doing nothing. He said they do not have a “delivery system.” They have a delivery system named Hezbollah. Iran may not have an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the US, yet. If Iran were to choose to attack the US, a container ship and a US port are much more likely to be involved than a new missile. Certainly, Israel is within reach as are the countries of Europe. Saudi Arabia is within reach. The Sunni-Shia rivalry is sufficient motive but the other reasons should not be ignored. Iran is ruled by a sect of suicidal maniacs.
Ryan capably described the Romney-Ryan tax proposals and his Medicare plan. I expected the abortion question and I thought it was well handled. Biden, of course, lied about the administration’s rules for health insurance coverage of contraception and abortion. That is not a big issue for me as I am pro-choice but the dishonesty is annoying. The “47% issue” and Ryan’s mention of a “30% who are takers” will not bother many people who agree and the offended are likely Obama voters no matter what happens.
It will be interesting to see what the result will be. The left, of course, is excited by the nasty tone Biden adopted.
On their $5 trillion tax cut, Romney/Ryan really need to either start naming the loopholes they’d close to pay for it or just admit they can’t make it revenue neutral without whacking the middle class. The VP was appropriately relentless on this point. Even I’m starting to feel sorry for them every time someone brings up this little flaw in their plan. I suspect I’m not alone in realizing that this country simply can’t afford to elect people promising a tax cut of this magnitude who, when it comes to paying for it, essentially say “trust us, we’ll find a bipartisan solution.”
The “$Five trillion tax cut” has been thoroughly debunked, including Stephanie Cutter’s retreat from the claim.
But, as I pointed out, Gov. Romney has already taken capital gains and dividends-for example-off the table. Now, here’s the revealing part: Larry said, and I know many in the investment community, including Mitt, feel exactly the same way, “I don’t consider those loopholes.”
So, here is a lefty who wants to raise taxes on investment income and capital gains. I don’t see enough responses pointing out that this income has already been taxed as ordinary income. Mitt Romney and most investors had salary income, taxed at the rates of the time, which they saved and invested. The capital gains and dividend income is income that was already taxed once. The left simply does not understand this.
Ryan kept his cool and Biden played the fool. Ann Althouse was impressed as I believe many women were impressed.
As I said, I’m tired of the yelling. I found the debate really hard to watch, but I kept watching because I was committed to live-blogging. Even still, I got catatonic. There was a point when I didn’t write anything for 20 minutes and then I said:
Biden has been yelling at Martha Raddatz for the last 15 minutes (as the subject is war). It’s so inappropriate!
The previous post had been:
The stress level is rising. Biden is so angry. Why is he yelling? Ryan needs nerves of steel not to lose his cool. I’m impressed that Ryan, when he gets his turn, is able to speak in an even, natural voice. It’s hard to concentrate on the policy itself, because the emotional static is so strong.
That shows how I felt: pain. So here’s my question. Ratings were down, I see, but when were the ratings taken? In the beginning? How did the ratings drop off over the course of the 90 minutes?
I have seen many comments about people, especially women, turning off the debate because of Biden’s rudeness and blustering. The ratings were down and the question is when were the ratings surveyed ? Of course, last night was also a big sports night. I think Ryan did better than the initial impressions suggest.
If Obama uses the Biden debate tactic as a model for next Tuesday, the election may well be over.
Posted in Economics & Finance, International Affairs, Iran, Leftism, Middle East, National Security, Obama, Politics, Taxes, War and Peace | 23 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 12th October 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
“From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”
When I was deep in the midst of researching and writing the Adelsverein Trilogy, of course I wound up reading a great towering pile of books about the Civil War. I had to do that – even though my trilogy isn’t really about the Civil War, per se. It’s about the German settlements in mid-19th century Texas. But for the final volume, I had to put myself into the mind of a character who has come home from it all; weary, maimed and heartsick – to find upon arriving (on foot and with no fanfare) that everything has changed. His mother and stepfather are dead, his brothers have all fallen on various battlefields and his sister-in-law is a bitter last-stand Confederate. He isn’t fit enough to get work as a laborer, and being attainted as an ex-rebel soldier, can’t do the work he was schooled for, before the war began. This was all in the service of advancing my story, of how great cattle baronies came to be established in Texas and in the West, after the war and before the spread of barbed wire, rail transport to practically every little town and several years of atrociously bad winters. So are legends born, but to me a close look at the real basis for the legends was totally fascinating and much more nuanced – the Civil War and the cattle ranching empires, both.
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Posted in Americas, Civil Society, History, North America, Uncategorized, USA, War and Peace | 3 Comments »
Posted by Sgt. Mom on 10th October 2012 (All posts by Sgt. Mom)
A long while ago, I kicked off a discussion about the military in movies, which resulted in uncorking a raging stream of opinion among blog commenters about movies, and how the military was generally portrayed therein—and lest anyone in Tinseltown be patting themselves on the back on their sterling record, let me break it gently to them that if I could figure out a way to distill and bottle most of the feedback, I’d have a dandy product on sale at Home Depot or Lowe’s, suitable for peeling varnish or paint off furniture. Generally, movies dealing with the military were derided for gross improbabilities in military practice or custom, faulted for violations of uniform regulations, general appearance and grooming standards, the presence (or absence) of inventory items in a movie represented to be set in a certain historical period, and over-egging the pudding, so to speak, when it came to explosions, ricochets, gunfire and engine sound effects.
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Posted in Arts & Letters, Diversions, Film, Media, Military Affairs, Society, Uncategorized, War and Peace | 22 Comments »
Posted by Jonathan on 3rd October 2012 (All posts by Jonathan)
Chicagoboyz community member Death 6 has some thoughts:
Some of you might be wondering what is really going on in Afghanistan given
the official statements, news coverage (or lack of) and some recent
significant engagements. As someone who networks in the intell and military
affairs communities, I found this recent article an accurate and concise
summary of where things stand and a good guide to where it is likely to be
going from here. The following summary with link was extracted from an email I received:
“Afghanistan is the War that is covered in 1/2 inch articles in the back of
your newspaper. It is hardly covered on TV. The last of Obama’s surge troops
have been withdrawn, the remaining troops are no longer training the
Afghanis [sic], opium farming and sales are up… only the remaining troops
must remain for more than a year and a half. This short article tells a sad
The media only skimmed over the recent military slaughter and equipment
destruction in Afghanistan…. C Brewer”
(The article that Death 6 refers to appears here.)
Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Middle East, Military Affairs, National Security, War and Peace | 13 Comments »
Posted by David Foster on 28th September 2012 (All posts by David Foster)
The Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom Tour this year includes B-17 and B-24 bombers and also a P-51 Mustang fighter. You can visit the airplanes for a small donation and, for a substantially larger donation, you can actually take a ride!. Indeed, flight instruction is available in the P-51, which is a two-seat trainer version. If the tour is coming to an airport near you, these planes are well worth seeing. Schedule here. Collings is also looking for volunteers to help organize tour stops in their locations.
The P-51 has an interesting history. Its design was led by James “Dutch” Kindelberger, a high-school dropout who had worked as a draftsman and taken correspondence courses before gaining admission to college. Kindleberger became president of North American Aviation in 1935. When his company was approached by the British govenment to manufacture a batch of P-40 Tomahawk fighters, Kindelberger proposed instead that a new design be built. Fortunately for the world, his proposal was accepted, and the first P-51 was flown only 6 months after the order was placed.
The P-51 had considerably greater range than previous escort fighters. Hermann Goering told his interrogators that it was when he saw P-51s over Berlin that he knew the war was lost for Germany.
Aerial warfare is of course not only about machines; it is also about men. Randall Jarrell, a major American poet, served in the U.S. Army Air Force during the war, and wrote many poems centering around WWII air combat.
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Posted in Aviation, History, Poetry, War and Peace | 26 Comments »