Carronade The Yankee Sailor Carronade

The Sea is a choosy mistress. She takes the men that come to her and weighs them and measures them. The ones she adores, she keeps; the ones she hates, she destroys. The rest she casts back to land. I count myself among the adored, for I am Her willing Captive.

I've relocated to a new Yankee Sailor.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Busy Day - Some Posts Delayed

Busy day today on the ship. Started landing craft operations at 0300, rolled directly into flight operations, and have been struggling all morning to keep the ship moving towards our destination. To top it off, my watch begins shortly, so I won't get anything else out until late afternoon.

Daily Read Board - 30JUN05

United States

2 Iraqis held trying to cross Mexico border - Two Iraqis who paid alien smugglers in Mexico to help them gain illegal entry to the United States were arrested yesterday by Mexican authorities in a border town near San Diego.

U.S. Said to Get Gitmo Info on al-Qaida - WASHINGTON (AP) - Some terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, who have been silent for several years are now providing information about al-Qaida, a U.S. general said Wednesday.

Health funds for veterans misjudged - The Bush administration yesterday admitted that it badly miscalculated health care spending for veterans this year and agreed to send Congress an emergency spending request to make up a shortfall of at least $1 billion.

China's buildup causing 'concern' - The Pentagon is debating how to field the right mix of weapons to deal with China's growing military power, a top Air Force general said yesterday.

Chinese President Visits Russia for Talks - MOSCOW (AP) - Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Russia on Thursday and is expected to bolster ties with Beijing's former rival in hopes of quadrupling their trade turnover to up to $80 billion a year by 2010.

Report: China Traffic Dispute Becomes Riot - BEIJING (AP) - A traffic dispute in eastern China erupted into a riot as angry crowds battled police, burned cars and smashed windows at a police station, news reports said Wednesday. There were no deaths but six police officers were injured, the reports said.

China Journalists Seek Colleagues' Release - SHANGHAI, China (AP) - In a bold challenge to rigid government media controls, Chinese journalists have petitioned for the release of two colleagues jailed after aggressive reporting that was believed to have angered local officials.

White House to Tighten Syria Finances - WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration, turning up the heat on Syria, moved Thursday to block the financial assets of the country's interior minister and its chief of military intelligence for Lebanon.

Wars take toll on Army officers' marriages - NEW YORK (AP) -- The Army is now on the offensive against another enemy: a divorce rate that has soared in the past three years as longer and more frequent war zone deployments place extra strain on couples.

Army Surpasses Its June Recruiting Goals but Says Much Work Remains - The Army has exceeded its monthly nationwide recruiting goals for June, stopping a four-month slide and giving recruiters hope as they try to make up a significant deficit in the remaining three months of the fiscal year.

General Encourages Military Recruitment - WASHINGTON (AP) - America's parents should not stand in the way of sons and daughters who want to join the military, but should let them follow their patriotic instincts, the nation's No. 2 general said Wednesday.


Italy Knew About Plan To Grab Suspect - The previously undisclosed Italian involvement undercuts the accusation that the CIA slipped into the country unannounced and uninvited to kidnap an Italian resident off the street.

Iran leader linked to '79 embassy crisis - Americans held in the 1979 seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Iran said yesterday they clearly recall Iranian President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad playing a central role in the takeover, interrogating captives and demanding harsher treatment for the hostages.

Al-Jaafari predicts Syrian cooperation - LONDON -- Iraqi Prime Minster Ibrahim al-Jaafari expressed confidence that a radical shift in the Syrian role in supporting and financing terrorist missions in Iraq was imminent.

Secular Shiites in Iraq Seek Autonomy in Oil-Rich South - The push by powerful Shiite politicians for an autonomous region in southern Iraq poses a direct challenge to the nation's central authority.

U.S.-Led Forces Detain Suspected Militants - BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - U.S.-led forces detained more than a dozen suspected militants in a counterinsurgency sweep through western Anbar province as part of a sustained effort to disrupt the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq, the military said Thursday.

Iraqis Divided Over U.S. Troop Pullout - BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - For engineering professor Moayad Yasin al-Samaraie, President Bush's pledge to keep U.S. troops in Iraq until their mission is complete was the promise of order over chaos.

Lebanese Lawmakers Nominate Prime Minister - BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Lebanon's newly victorious anti-Syrian lawmakers on Wednesday nominated a former finance minister known for his pro-market policies to be the country's next prime minister.

India, U.S. strengthen defense ties - Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, who concluded a four-day visit to Washington yesterday, signed an agreement on defense ties and called for relaxation of U.S. restrictions on civilian nuclear technology transfers to India.

Colombia Navy Members Arrested Over Drugs - BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - Twelve members of Colombia's navy were arrested after raids uncovered drug-making chemicals and documents linking them to cocaine smuggling groups, authorities said Wednesday.

Titivation at the Yankee Sailor

I have nothing profound to blog on today (some of you might argue I never have anything profound to blog on), so I spent some time getting the Yankee Sailor shipshape and Bristol fashion. Here's what I accomplished:

-- added more terms to the dictionary
-- banished the buttons to the bilges to get the page to load more quickly
-- Added a couple of linkers to the MilBlogs ROE list
-- Added a couple of links to some major blogs that I read reglarly

Time for chow, then it's off to watch....

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Daily Read Board - 29JUN05

United States

Bush invokes 9/11 in Iraq war - President Bush last night warned Americans not to forget the lessons of September 11, declaring that Iraq is the central front in the war on terror and asserting that finishing the military mission there "is vital to the future security of our country."

Democrats reject link to attacks on America - Congressional Democrats said President Bush's repeated attempts last night to link the war in Iraq to the September 11 terrorist attacks rang hollow and did not constitute the plan to win the war that they said Mr. Bush needed to deliver.

Bush Critics Call for More Troops in Iraq - WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional critics of President Bush's stay-the-course commitment to the war in Iraq argued Wednesday that the administration lacks sufficient troops on the ground to mount a successful counterinsurgency.

New U.S. center to check spread of WMDs - The Bush administration has agreed to set up a new interagency center to counter the spread of weapons of mass destruction, U.S. officials said. The creation of the National Counterproliferation Center will be announced today, along with a series of reforms recommended by a presidential panel in March, said officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

New Office to Oversee Intelligence Abroad - The White House has decided to establish an office to manage and coordinate all U.S. human intelligence collection overseas, whether carried out by the CIA, the Pentagon or the FBI, one of dozens of recommendations made in March by a presidential commission on intelligence, according to current and former senior intelligence officials.

CIA Opposes 9-11 Panel's Recommendation - WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and CIA Director Porter Goss have told the White House they oppose a recommendation by the Sept. 11 commission to transfer the CIA's control of covert paramilitary operations to the Pentagon.

Senate to Boost Spending for Vets - Struggling to prevent political damage, Senate Republicans intend to raise spending on veterans programs by $1.5 billion to make up for a shortage caused partly by the return of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Says It Could Repel Any NKorea Attack - SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - A U.S. military commander on Wednesday said the United States and South Korea could repel any attack by North Korea, even if the secretive country has one or two nuclear bombs.


Sunnis will nab Zarqawi when 'ready' - Sunni "fence sitters" in Iraq say they would be willing to take on master terrorist Abu Musab Zarqawi and rid the country of foreign saboteurs if the Shi'ite-run government's new political structure is acceptable to them, according to a senior U.S. official.

Iraqis Split Over Bush Pledge on Troops - BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraqis were divided Wednesday over President Bush's rejection of a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops, which came as insurgents bent on starting a civil war blew up a natural gas pipeline and killed a police officer.

Some Iraqis Optimistic About Sovereignty - BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 28 - When Shaker Assal was approached in his butcher's shop on Tuesday and asked what he thought about life in Iraq a year after it resumed formal sovereignty, he responded with a blast of invective as heated as the sunbaked sidewalks in his Baghdad neighborhood of Ghazaliya.

Saudi Official Warns of More Terrorism - RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - The interior minister warned of more terrorist acts in Saudi Arabia, pointing to a new list of 36 wanted suspects who belong to the same group responsible for attacks in the past two years, an official news agency reported Wednesday.

Blair Defends Iraq War, Dismisses Memo - LONDON (AP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday defended the war in Iraq, and brushed off a new question about a government memo that suggested Washington had been determined to justify the invasion. "I was glad that we took the action we did," Blair told the House of Commons

Military strategy 'defensive,' envoy insists - A senior Chinese diplomat describes China's military strategy as "defensive," and says the Beijing government does not seek to "exclude" U.S. forces from the region.

Despite sanctions, U.S. allies aid oil, gas pipeline projects - Iran is expanding its oil, gas and petrochemical projects with American allies such as Iraq and India, finding ways to increase its energy deals and foreign investment, in effect doing an end run around U.S. sanctions threats.

Extremist Israelis Block Highway Over Gaza - JERUSALEM (AP) - Extremist opponents of Israel's planned pullout from the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank blocked the main entrance to Jerusalem on Wednesday, sitting in the road during evening rush hour. Police reacted by spraying them with a water cannon.

EU Forges Ahead With Turkey Invite Plan - BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - The European Union head office on Wednesday formally proposed opening membership talks with Turkey on Oct. 3, but acknowledged there are misgivings about letting the relatively poor, overwhelming Muslim nation into the bloc.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Two Dismal Strategies for Iraq

Today's Daily Kos posts include some lightweight politico-military theory on how to exit gracefully from Iraq. From the outset the careful reader will note that there are problems in the logic to follow, however. Kos begins,

So here are two ways to talk about the war that don't betray weakness:

Pardon my often inadequate mastery of the English language, but Kos uses the words "betray weakness" and one cannot betray something that is not there. Freudian slip, perhaps? Nonetheless, Kos continues with his discussion, apparently quoting someone else without providing attribution,

We have accomplished what we set out to do -- bring freedom to Iraq and rid the region of the specter of Saddam's terror.

But now it is time to let the Iraqis take charge of their own lives. The future belongs to a free democratic Iraq, but it is a future they must fight for themselves.

What this proposal boils down to is essentially, "declare victory and leave." Making this work would of course depend upon you're definition of "victory", but in my estimation we're not there yet. Signs of success are plenty, but the end is not in sight.

The Iraqi people do not yet have a constitution or even a permanent government. Iraqi security forces cannot yet maintain security, and the civilian government probably would exercise only tenuous control over the security forces. In short, this scenario is a recipe for disaster and would in the best case result in a Shi'ite dominated Iraq, or in the worse case the Balkanization of Iraq into three separate Kurdish, Sunni and Shi'ite states.

The second trial balloon floated by Kos is, again quoted without attribution,

We are facing a crisis in Iraq, and yet no one is being held accountable. Our troops don't have enough men, equipment, or armor to effectively and safely do their job, yet those responsible for these deadly miscalculations remain at their jobs. They claim, as they always have, that Iraq is about to turn yet another corner, pass yet another milestone on the road to peace and prosperity. But the reality on the ground mocks those assertions.

We must have accountability in order to win this war. Those responsible for so many catastrophic mistakes must replaced by more competent, more effective, people.

This is like saying, "the orphanage is burning, but since we don't have the number of firefighters and array of equipment that would be ideal to fight the fire, let's just accept that we cannot succeed and let the orphans burn."

Since humans are universally fallible in reading the future, the logical implication is that we should never fight any war, even one of national survival, because the military and resources we have at any given time will not be perfectly suited and completely adequate to defeat all possible enemies. This is mere fatalism, and while it has become a hallmark of today's Left, it doesn't fit in the American character.

In addition, this approach takes issue with the execution of the war, not the rationale. If you disagree with the war and the political goals, then say so and be gone. Merely quibbling with the manner in which it's being executed is not a good reason to cease and desist. The war is either just or unjust, and if it's just, we're obligated to finish the job even if we have but sticks and stones at our disposal.

Perhaps to people who practice this perverse logic of the Left and think the time is right to get out of Iraq we should point out the less than stellar success of the Left's most recent exit strategies. Haiti and Somalia are still, after a decade, both bloody messes, and Kosovo still requires a heavy NATO sponsored peacekeeping force to maintain order. The answer in Iraq is not exit, but perseverance.

Trackbacked to Outside the Beltway and Mudville Gazette.

Amateur Sea Stories at the Daily Kos

From the journal of a very minor player at the Daily Kos is a rehash, or shall I say ignorant embellishment, of an old urban legend of the sea - "the carrier and the lighthouse."

I ask you, who makes this sh*t up? For the current and former Sailors and Coast Guardsmen out there, feel free to "murder board" this one in the comments.

Abuse Claims All The Rage

Thanks to a certain Senator with whom I have profound disagreements, claims of abuse and desecration of the Qur'an by former detainees at Guantanamo Bay now seem to be all the rage. Even worse is the media still appears to be buying, despite the fact that the vast majority of claims have been debunked and the claims get more outrageous with time.

The AP publishes the following claims from Pakistani ex-detainees, with nary a note of skepticism:

During interrogation, whenever I would make a reference to the Quran they would hit me in the face with a copy. They would tear it into pieces. They would tell me that Quran teaches us terrorism...They would throw Quran in a bucket of urine. They would tear the Quran and throw it at our faces...inmates staged a hunger strike in protest, and were then tortured with electric shocks...Girls would interrogate us. They would take off their clothes in front of us. They would make different poses in front of us and they would sit on our chests.

Then, in another report from Russia, where the detainee called a press conference for the fawning media, come these claims:

In Cuba, they used to throw the Quran in the toilet bowl. This happened regularly and was intended to provoke Kandahar, they tore up copies of the Quran and even put it in a bucket of feces

Both stories end with the equivalent of a footnote of truth by regurgitating a boilerplate - and true - comment from the Pentagon that al-Qaida training manuals instruct prisoners to make such false charges.

Obviously the enemy has figured out how to push the buttons of the international community, mainstream media and Muslim radicals all at once. The question is, when if ever will the media realize they're being manipulated?

A Day at Sea

It was a boring, quiet watch last night, so in between the myriad of trivial tasks that come up during four hours "in the chair" I logged what went on yesterday as sort of a "day in the life of a Sailor." It's long, like our days at sea, but worth the read I think - even if you have to take a break for coffee and a smoke.

0001 - Sleeping.
0045 - Bridge calls, secondary GPS has lost position data. There's another GPS set that's working, so back to sleep.
0120 - Bridge calls, secondary GPS working again. Good news, but you look at your watch and see you have to get up in less than an hour and you wish they hadn't called. Back to sleep.
0215 - Alarm clock goes off
0225 - Combat Systems Officer calls to make sure you're up to relieve him - smart man, that CSO. Shave, comb hair, dress, proceed to wardroom for coffee and PopTarts, then smoke pit. Smoke two, it's going to be a long day.
0245 - Climb back up the six ladders to CIC for watch, ducking into flag plot to see what's going on in the group.
0300 - After reviewing what's happened during his watch, what's broken and what got fixed, what ships are where and what's in the schedule for the day, assume the watch as Tactical Action Officer. There's nothing tactical to do where you are, though, so you're sort of an underway CDO for the next four hours.
0310 - Go to the bridge and make sure the OOD know's what's in the schedule, and make him explain his plan to get the ship from place to place.
0330 - Tell the Watch Officer to start the communications checks on the radio circuits that will be used during the day that were supposed to be started half an hour ago.
0345 - Tell the Track Supervisor to get the trackers to pay attention and put symbols on all the radar contacts.
0415 - Run down six ladders to get another cup of coffee in the wardroom, then back up six ladders to get back to CIC. Curse that you don't have time to duck in the smoke pit.
0420 - Ask how comms checks are going
0425 - Come up with a plan to pick up some Marines from the LSD, and the cruiser's captain, that will arrive by small boat at 0730. Curse that you were notified about the boat transfer at 0100, after everyone was in their racks.
0435 - Explain the boat transfer plan over chat to the cruiser and LSD, and wait for them to digest and comment. Start reviewing the news of the day, blogging optional.
0500 - Make sure the bridge departs the night steaming box for the landing craft launch point.
0505 - Review the cruiser's proposal for a rendezvous for boat transfer, and reject because it's 20 miles from the landing craft launch point, and you launch at 0800.
0510 - Finish up reading the news.
0535 - Get on chat and find out how the cruiser intends to follow you to the rendezvous, remind him to pass astern when you turn and take station off the beam so as not to foul the well deck and launch lane.
0605 - Call the First Lieutanant and tell him to have the port sideport rigged with a pilot's ladder by 0645, and stand by for whining.
0615 - Go to the bridge so the Captain can ask you why the previous watch didn't call and tell him about the boat transfer.
0635 - Check the time to see how much longer watch will last.
0645 - Brief the oncoming officer about what's been done, what's in progress, what's broken and what's fixed, and wonder how long he's going to take to assume the watch.
0700 - Proceed aft and up one level to Debark Control for Officer's Call with the XO.
0710 - Proceed up one more ladder to the weather deck for Quarters.
0715 - Quarters. Take a look at how the Sailors are dressed. Explain what's going on today and what's coming up in the near future.
0725 - Proceed down six levels at best speed to grab chow before turn to.
0740 - Refill the coffee cup and proceed down two levels to the smoke pit. Wonder if that First Class Petty Officer from admin ever leaves the smoke pit.
0745 - Proceed back up six levels to the bridge to sign the 8 o'clock position report. Wonder when you're going to get your paperwork done while you're stuck on the bridge all day, monitoring the bridge watch as they sail back and forth within half a mile of shoals. Call the chief to get him to come relieve you at 1030 so you can see the XO to review your departmental work plan for the next inport period and get lunch.
0800 - Make sure the first landing craft is departing the well deck.
0815 - The Captain asks you why the ship is limited to a particular speed when flooding ballast tanks. Go to the chart house and get the ballasting instruction and wet well manual so you can research while monitoring the ship's position.
0845 - Ballast Control calls the bridge to report that #2 HPU has tripped offline and they're investigating the cause. OOD repeats back the report and goes back to what he was doing. Captain asks the OOD what an HPU is. OOD answers with a blank look. Join the Captain in a round of "stump the chump", asking the OOD questions about how the ballast system works, making sure to note at the end to find the OOD and make sure he knows the answers to the unanswered questions by the end of the day.
0920 - Report to the Captain what you found out about restrictions on ballasting, make a note to give the DCA a heads up that the Captain will be asking why we observe a particular restriction while ballasting.
0930 - Duck into the chart house and print out the inport work list and review it. Make a couple of calls to find answers to questions the XO will ask.
1015 - Chief arrives. Fill him in on what's been completed and what's left to do with the landing craft.
1020 - Climb down six levels to the smoke pit, then back up seven to Debark Control to see the XO and review the work list.
1055 - Climb down five levels to the wardroom for lunch. Gripe that the cooks have put corn dogs on the line three days in a row and that the cake is the consistency of coral.
1125 - Climb down two levels to the smoke pit.
1135 - Climb up six levels, stopping at the wardroom to refill your coffee, to the bridge and sign the twelve o'clock position report. Review and sign the celestial navigation workbook and compass log. Ensure the Quartermaster shot an azimuth to the sun to check gyro error, and is prepared to observe local apparent noon. Tell the JOOD to observe LAN for training alongside the Quartermaster. Savor the look of dread on the JOOD's face.
1210 - Proceed to the at-sea cabin to read e-mail and message traffic.
1230 - Wonder if it's worth getting half an hour of sleep before the department head meeting. Blog instead.
1300 - Proceed down four levels to the Captain's inport cabin for department head meeting.
1330 - Proceed down two levels for a smoke. Bum one because you left your pack next to the computer.
1345 - Go up two levels to see the Operations Officer to check on any changes to the schedule.
1355 - Proceed up four levels to CIC to check the current schedule and identify and time-distance problems in the proposed changes. Stop in flag plot to ask why you, as the flag navigator, weren't consulted when the schedule was changed.
1415 - Inform Ops that we can execute the proposed changes and return to the bridge to check on the progress of the landing craft. Ask the OOD what his plan is to get the ship to the flight operations area once the landing craft are back.
1430 - Return to the at-sea cabin to work on evaluations.
1530 - After the landing craft are recovered, go to the bridge to see if the plan the OOD is executing is the same plan he briefed to you earlier. Review the results of the two observations of local apparent noon. Make a note to have Ensign Slipknot do it again tomorrow.
1545 - Return to the at-sea cabin to check e-mail again. Wonder if it's worth taking a nap this late in the day. Surf some blogs.
1612 - An e-mail from your detailer pops in your inbox. It says "Call me ASAP. We need to discuss some further options WRT your timing." F--k! Standing by to get slammed. Contemplate the possibilities and pray that there isn't a trip to Baghdad in your future. Spend the next twenty minutes trying to get a phone line off the ship.
1630 - Go down six levels to the smoke pit, then back up two to the wardroom for supper.
1700 - Climb up four levels to the bridge, review the eight o'clock reports and begin preparing the night orders. Review the night's schedule. Call the Chief Engineer and Combat Systems Officer to find out what's broken and what's fixed. Make sure the planning chart is ready for the evening operations brief. Wonder if you're detailer's still at work, and try to get a phone line.
1750 - Go down four decks to the wardroom lounge for 8 o'clock reports.
1815 - after eights, duck in the wardroom for a cup of coffee and an ice cream cone.
1835 - Go down two decks to the smoke pit.
1850 - Go up two decks to the wardroom for the operations brief. Brief the ship's movements for tomorrow and finish up the night orders during the current intel segment at the end of the brief. Corner your stump the chump victim and see if he's got answers to the questions.
1930 - Meet the XO and Captain at the head table to get them to review and sign the night orders. Explain what training is planned for the bridge officers during the night.
1950 - Climb back up four levels to the bridge to drop off the night orders and sign the 2000 position report. Make sure the OOD understands what's in the night orders and the Quartermaster is going to take a celestial fix at twilight.
2005 - Wonder whether it's worth going back down to the smoke pit or whether you should just go to bed - your next watch starts at 2145. Lie down and set your alarm for 2115.
2115 - Alarm goes off. Grab your coffee cup and head for the wardroom. Have a PB&J and two glasses of chocolate milk to get you through to 0300. Watch twenty minutes of a movie that you've seen other parts of before, but never the end - or beginning for that matter.
2135 - Report to the smoke pit, for two this time.
2145 - Return to CIC, ducking in flag plot on the way, and take the watch.
2200 - Make sure the OOD knows which box to go to after flight operations.
2215 - Make sure all the right publications are broken out for the night's junior officer training package with other ships and that the radio circuit is up.
2300 - Tell the track supervisor to make the trackers pay attention.
2315 - Sit down with another officer to review material that will be covered in his warfare qualification oral board.
2355 - Check the time and contemplate what tomorrow will be like, after a 24-hour day, and on just seven hours of sleep in two nights. Go to the chart room to get the coffee cup you left there and head to the wardroom.

So, there you are. Twenty-four hours of meetings, training, busy work, crisis management, coffee and cigarettes later, you're exhausted and half-conscious but know you'll have a rewarding satisfaction with all you've accomplished down the road. Oh, and the best part is, you've only got three more hours to go in your day!

Daily Read Board - 28JUN05

United States

Bush, Schroeder agree on Iran nukes - President Bush yesterday criticized a vow by Iran's president-elect to restart Tehran's nuclear-energy program, warning it could lead to the development of a nuclear weapon.

Pentagon Stresses Political Action in Iraq - WASHINGTON (AP) - Top U.S. military officials are increasingly emphasizing political solutions rather than military ones to Iraq's insurgency, a shift acknowledging the difficulty they and the Iraqi government face in stopping the violence.

Nunn: Terrorists Winning Nuclear Race - WASHINGTON (AP) - The government is losing the battle to keep the world's most dangerous weapons away from the world's most dangerous terrorists, largely because of a failure to monitor nuclear materials at the source, former Sen. Sam Nunn said Monday.

White House Is Said to Reject Panel's Call for a Greater Pentagon Role in Covert Operations - The White House has reportedly decided to reject recommendations by a commission that would have given the Pentagon greater authority to conduct covert operations.

Survey Finds Most Support Staying in Iraq - Most Americans do not believe the administration's claims that impressive gains are being made against the insurgency, but a clear majority is willing to keep U.S. forces in Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Democrats Press for More Veterans Funds - WASHINGTON (AP) - Senate Democrats say they will press for a vote as early as Tuesday to address a $1 billion shortfall in the budget for veterans' health care programs.


China Economy Rising at Pace to Rival U.S. - GUANGZHOU, China, June 26 - A line of Chinese-made cars began rolling onto a ship here Friday, bound for Europe. The cars, made at a gleaming new Honda factory on the outskirts of this sprawling city near Hong Kong, signal the latest move by China to follow Japan and South Korea in building itself into a global competitor in one of the cornerstones of the industrial economy.

Afghan Elections a Go Despite Violence - KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Landmark legislative elections in Afghanistan will be held as planned in September despite an upsurge in rebel violence that has raised fears the polls could be threatened, the president's spokesman said Tuesday.

Shiite Hints at Wider Voting Role for Sunnis - Iraq's most powerful Shiite cleric suggested he would support changes in the voting system that could give Sunnis more seats in Parliament.

U.S.-Led Forces Launch New Offensive - HIT, Iraq (AP) - More than 1,000 U.S. troops and Iraqi forces launched Operation Sword on Tuesday in a bid to crush insurgents and foreign fighters in western Iraq, the third major offensive in the area in recent weeks.

New navy already has its sea legs - UMM QASR, Iraq -- The new Iraqi navy, reformed only two years ago after its destruction during 12 years of war and sanctions, has begun conducting independent patrols as part of the multinational effort to protect Iraq's offshore oil platforms and its ports of Umm Qasr and Khawr Al Zubayr.

From 'Great Satan' to Estranged Cousin - Iranians chose a conservative hard-liner to be their next president, but many yearn to sidestep geopolitics and improve relations with the U.S.

Ex-Gitmo Inmates: Quran Was Desecrated - LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistanis freed from Guantanamo Bay claimed they saw American interrogators throw, tear and stand on copies of Islam's holy book, and one former detainee said naked women sat on prisoners' chests during questioning.

Sharon Sends Stern Warning to Extremists - JERUSALEM (AP) - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Tuesday warned Jewish settlers opposed to his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip that the use of violence against security forces constitutes a threat to Israel's existence.

Parliament Speaker Elected in Lebanon - BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - Lebanon's new parliament overwhelmingly re-elected a pro-Syrian as speaker Tuesday in a political compromise by the anti-Syrian coalition that won the elections, the first conducted without Syrian influence in 30 years.

Kenyan Court Acquits Suspects in Bombing - NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - Kenya's latest attempt to convict suspects in an al-Qaida-linked hotel bombing that killed 15 people ended with acquittals Monday - raising questions about the readiness of Kenyan prosecutors to handle such cases.

France: EU Enlargement Should Be Halted - PARIS (AP) - France's interior minister said Monday that European Union enlargement should be suspended after the entry of Romania and Bulgaria - a clear swipe at Turkey's efforts to join the bloc.

Japan's emperor visits Saipan - Japan's Emperor Akihito made an unprecedented visit to an overseas battlefield yesterday to pay tribute to the tens of thousands who died on this tiny Pacific island in one of World War II's defining conflicts.

Britain Marks Anniversary of Sea Victory - PORTSMOUTH, England (AP) - Two hundred years ago a daredevil naval hero by the name of Horatio Nelson led the British to a glorious victory over France and Spain. But that might not be clear from watching Tuesday's reenactment of the Battle of Trafalgar.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Is the Left Trying to Make Us to Fail in Iraq?

If I read the tea leaves right, it looks like the military is being set up to fail in Iraq.

First, there was all the buzz recently about parents and teachers being resistant gatekeepers with respect to recruiters. Then, all the tumult about the press' treatment of the military and Americans' growing complacency with respect to the War on Terror. Now, it looks like at least part of the Democratic Party is putting out the message that the terrorist threat has dissipated and national security is no longer a "big" issue.

I discovered this digging through one of Froggy's ruminations this morning and came across an interesting tidbit quoted from a conversation with his mother. Froggy's mother is a former Democratic mayor of a city in California, and this is a discussion Froggy had with her about a call she took from someone with the party:

A “man” called from the DNC on a fundraising mission asking my mom to dig deep for the party. He also asked her what issues she was concerned about. That was where he f*ed up. Mom told him she was concerned about illegal immigration and asked the “man” why the DNC didn’t seem to have a plan to deal with it (neither does the RNC, but that’s another post). His answer was that he had recently read an article in Foreign Policy Review (or some such publication) that an individual’s “chances” of being the victim of a terrorist attack were actually very low.

This is, if it's true, disturbing to say the least. I hesitate to accuse hardcore Democrats and the political Left of trying to make America's effort in Iraq fail for political gain, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to not come to that conclusion.

Trackbacked to Outside the Beltway and Mudville.

Daily Read Board - 27JUN05

United States

Schroeder Arrives in D.C. for Short Trip - WASHINGTON (AP) - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder arrived in Washington for a visit shortened by election-year pressure and overshadowed by the possibility Germany will have a new, more pro-American leader this fall.

U.S. Plans New Tool to Halt Spread Of Weapons - The Bush administration is planning new measures that would target the U.S. assets of anyone conducting business with a handful of Iranian, North Korean and Syrian companies believed by Washington to be involved in weapons programs, U.S. officials said yesterday.

Durbin Offers Vets Apology for Remarks - PEORIA, Ill. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin apologized to war veterans Saturday for his remarks earlier this month comparing interrogators at an American-run prison camp in Cuba to Nazis and other historically infamous regimes.

In Battle to Pick Next Justice, Right Says, Avoid a Kennedy - WASHINGTON - When Anthony M. Kennedy was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1987, he took the place of a fallen conservative icon, Robert H. Bork, whose defeat in a Senate conflagration still shapes judicial politics.

Experts Say Trial Unlikely for C.I.A. Operatives - WASHINGTON - The chances are relatively remote that the 13 people linked to the C.I.A who were ordered arrested by an Italian judge last week will ever stand trial there, experts in international law said Sunday.


Iran vows to restart nuke program - Iran's hard-line president-elect, at once defiant and at ease, vowed yesterday to restart the nation's nuclear energy program and told European negotiators that building trust required a mutual effort.

Analysts: Rafsanjani Turned Off the Poor - TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Losing presidential candidate Hashemi Rafsanjani failed to lure reformers and liberals to the polls, and he turned off the poor because he seemed to symbolize Iran's rich and powerful elite, say voters and analysts trying to explain the country's election.

Thefts of U.S. technology boost China's weaponry - China is stepping up its overt and covert efforts to gather intelligence and technology in the United States, and the activities have boosted Beijing's plans to rapidly produce advanced-weapons systems.

Beijing devoted to weakening 'enemy' U.S., defector says - China's communist leaders view the United States as their main enemy and are working in Asia and around the world to undermine U.S. alliances, said a former Chinese diplomat.

Attacks on Iraqi Forces Kill 33 in Mosul - MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - Suicide bombers struck a police headquarters, an army base and a hospital around Mosul, killing 33 people in a setback to efforts to rebuild the northwestern city's police force that was riven by intimidation from insurgents seven months ago.

A Look at Iraq by the Numbers - At the one-year mark since the U.S. handover of sovereignty in Iraq, the numbers behind the conflict shed light on the progress made, and the insurgent-driven turmoil that threatens to tear apart the fledgling democracy.

U.S. Reasserts Control in Afghanistan - KHAKERAN VALLEY, Afghanistan (AP) - Skimming low over the desert in helicopters with guns at the ready, American troops advanced Sunday into southern Afghanistan, seeking to reassert control after a spate of attacks raised fears of an Iraqi-style insurgency here.

Israeli Troops Flatten Gaza Buildings - SHIRAT HAYAM, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israeli bulldozers flattened a row of abandoned buildings next to this seaside settlement Sunday, clashing with Jewish settlers in the first military operation aimed at hampering opponents to Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Reforms curb Turkey's armed forces - ANKARA, Turkey -- To strengthen this country's chances of joining the European Union, its armed forces have undergone painful reforms over the past year that have curtailed their influence and increased the autonomy of the civilian government.

Libyan Opposition Seeks to Topple Gadhafi - LONDON (AP) - Divisions over tactics and vision split Libyan opposition groups in exile, but participants at a two-day conference agreed Sunday to unite under a "national accord" aimed at ousting Moammar Gadhafi.

Colombian Troops Mount Counterattack - BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) - President Alvaro Uribe flew to southwest Colombia to oversee a counterattack against leftist rebels on Sunday, a day after 25 soldiers were killed in attacks across the country that shattered hopes that the insurgents were nearing defeat.

Haiti Nearing Collapse

With all the terrorism related headlines swamping the media coverage, there's a major crisis brewing in America's neighbor to the south that's getting little recognition. There are a lot of calls for action flying around in diplomatic circles, and they all call for one thing: intervention. Check out some of these stories as background:

U.N.: Haiti Peacekeepers Should Stay - CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti — Haiti will need U.N. peacekeepers for several years as the impoverished nation struggles to rebuild its ill-equipped police force after the bloody uprising that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide last year, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said Saturday.

Police in Haiti continue the killing - Port au Prince, Haiti (HIP) - The Police Nationale d Haiti (PNH) launched another bloody incursion into a poor neighborhood of Haiti s capital today. The U.N. refused to comment on the operation that reportedly led to the deaths of three people and left four people wounded.

Without greater UN help, Haiti will soon collapse - Without U.S. Marines, money and diplomatic muscle to help the United Nations mission, the crisis in Haiti will explode.

Ottawa warns Canadians to avoid Haiti - Ottawa has issued a travel advisory warning Canadians to avoid Haiti. "Canadians [should] not travel to Haiti unless they have critical or compelling business or family reasons," said Sébastien Théberge, spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Canadian abducted in Haiti says captors beat her - A woman who returned to Canada from an abduction ordeal in Haiti said her captors burned her feet with candles and beat her. The accusations by Huguette Goulet, 65, followed her release last week after paying an undisclosed ransom to a group of kidnappers.

Kidnappings plague Haiti - PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Jean Henold Buteau's wife listened frantically to the brusque voice on the other end of the telephone line: We've got your husband. Give us $1 million or start planning his funeral.

Senior U.S. official visits unsettled Haiti - The U.S. State Department's top man for Latin America and the Caribbean arrived in Haiti on Wednesday to assess a surging wave of violence and increasing demands for the resignation of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Gerard Latortue.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Daily Read Board - 26JUN05

United States

Curtain to fall on Supreme session - The Supreme Court ends its work tomorrow with the highest of drama: an anticipated retirement, a ruling on the constitutionality of government Ten Commandments displays and decisions in other major cases.

Afghan ready for historic training at West Point - WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Like other new cadets reporting to West Point this summer, Shoaib Yosoufzai is bracing for the ice-water shock of a military education -- the marching, the drilling, the cramming, the shouting.


US 'in talks with Iraq with Iraq rebels' - AT a summer villa near Balad in the hills 40 miles north of Baghdad, a group of Iraqis and their American visitors recently sat down to tea. It looked like a pleasant social encounter far removed from the stresses of war, but the heavy US military presence around the isolated property signalled that an unusual meeting was taking place.

Suicide Bombings Kill at Least 33 in Iraq - MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - A suicide bomber with explosives hidden beneath watermelons in a pickup truck slammed into a police station near a market Sunday in Mosul, the first of three bombings that killed at least 33 people and wounded 19 in the northwestern city.

Rumsfeld: Iraqis Must Defeat Insurgency - WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Sunday it may take as long as 12 years to defeat Iraqi insurgents and that Iraqi security forces, not U.S. and foreign troops, will finish the job.

Chinese dragon awakens - Part I: China is building its military forces faster than U.S. intelligence and military analysts expected, prompting fears that Beijing will attack Taiwan in the next two years, according to Pentagon officials.

Iran's new leader takes hard line - Iran's president-elect spoke yesterday of making the country a "modern, advanced, powerful and Islamic" model for the world, borrowing the style of the hard-line ruling clerics that backed him in his landslide victory.

U.S. to Israel: Stop Expanding Settlements - JERUSALEM (AP) - The United States has turned up the pressure on Israel to stop expanding West Bank settlements, Israeli officials said Sunday. In the Gaza Strip, military bulldozers began flattening former resort homes to prevent pullout opponents from occupying them.

Syria Denies U.S. Allegations Over Troops - DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - An official Syrian newspaper on Saturday dismissed as "lies" American allegations that Damascus still maintained troops or intelligence officials in Lebanon.

Politicians Tour Gitmo - No Torture?

I'm not usually one to rehash items the giganti-bloggers cover, but I couldn't resist this one. Little Green Footballs ran a post commenting on a tour politicians got of the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay. First, contained in the original story was this priceless quote from Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D-CA):

The Guantanamo we saw today is not the Guantanamo we heard about a few years ago. that we've established it's not your father's Guantanamo Bay, let me get to my real point. I would disagree with LGF's assertion that there was no torture going on at Gitmo. I've done a lot of VIP tours through the years, including ones for Gen. Anthony Zinni (who was awesome) and Tom Clancy (who was annoying), and just the idea of having to give a tour to some of the politicians named in the Fox story sounds like torture to me.

Oh! The pain!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Join The MilBlogs ROE Project

If you blog and you're in the military, there are a lot of regulations and considerations that you should keep in mind when you blog. In an effort to keep military bloggers aware of these restrictions and exercise some self-regulation in the military blogging community, the MilBlog ROE Project was created.

If you agree with and adhere to MilBlogger's Rules of Engagement, are committed to responsible blogging, and support self-regulation among military bloggers, you're invited to show your commitment to the ROE by adding either a button or text message and link on your home page.

Here's the button:

MilBlogs ROE Compliant

Here's the text-only link:

If you want the button, use this code:

<a href="">
<img src="" alt="MilBlogs <br>ROE Compliant" height="40" width="88" /></a>

Or, if you prefer text only, use this code:

<a href="">
MilBlogs ROE<br>Compliant</a>

If you add the link or button, e-mail sailor(at)yankeesailor(dot)us and I'll add a link to your home page on the MilBlog ROE Subscribers blogroll.

Thanks, and blog on!

Trackback pinged to Mudville Gazette and Wizbang.

They're Baaaack....

Over the last few days we've been embarking our MEU for ESG Integration Training. What that means is, we're now dealing with over 2500 Sailors and Marines on the ship instead of the more comfortable 1050 or so. The chow lines get longer, the gym goes to separate PT hours, the ship's store is awash in a sea of camouflage, and of course, Blackhawk Down, Full Metal Jacket and A Few Good Men are back in heavy rotation on TV.

The Marines don't have much to do when we're just transiting from place to place. On the last deployment, we started calling the Marines' routine the Three M's: muscles, munching and movies. When we're participating in an operation, though, they're pretty busy with planning. ESGINT is a week-long exercise intended to flex the Marines' planning and execution skills, and smooth out the wrinkles in the way the MEU and ESG staffs interact. During ESGINT the group and MEU will execute many of the expeditionary tasks that an ESG would be required to execute in a real-world crisis, like an amphibious raid, a tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel and naval surface fire support.

We here aboard the flagship have more practice in the integration piece because we got handed two contingencies during our regular training cycle. Last summer we brought a large force of British and Dutch Marines aboard, commanded by the Commandant of the UK's Royal Marines, no less - who by the way is a great guy - and then last month we were sent to participate in an ongoing humanitarian operation/exercise in Haiti. So, we're no stranger to integrating fast and staying flexible to get the job done.

Our MEU, however, is an unknown quantity, hasn't had to practice integration yet, and thus far seems rather...inflexible. We shall see....

How Blue The Sea

A poem, from a Boatswain's Mate, no less:

How blue the sea I well remember
How limitless its path
On days of gray through pounding spray
She so implies her wrath
In calm or storm the sea I love
Yet must exact a toll
This day from me you took too much
You swallowed up my soul

Joe O'Brien, BM3, USN

Daily Read Board - 25JUN05

United States

Bush rejects timetable for Iraq pullout - President Bush yesterday rejected calls from Congress to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, reassuring Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari that the United States will remain in the war-torn nation until the mission is complete.

Reshuffling the military - HONOLULU — The plan to realign U.S. military forces in Asia and the Pacific would enhance the roles of Hawaii and Guam, tighten the alliance with Japan and streamline the posture in South Korea.


Iraqi Police Find Eight Beheaded Bodies - BAQOUBA, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi security forces discovered the bodies of eight beheaded men Friday in two villages north of Baghdad, army officers said.

Ahmadinejad's Rise in Iran Spans Two Years - TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the meteor of Iranian politics, rising from provincial governor to mayor of the capital and now to president - all in two years, backed by hardliners in the clerical regime.

President-Elect Wants Modern, Islamic Iran - TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - The winner of Iran's presidential election, whose landslide victory dealt a setback to reformers, said Saturday he seeks to make his country a "modern, advanced, powerful, and Islamic" model for the world.

Radical Islamists Cheer Hardliner's Win - JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesian radical Islamists cheered the news that a hardliner had won Iran's presidential election, while Muslims in Pakistan said the victory was the response to a U.S. foreign policy that has bolstered Islamic extremism in the region.

Terrorists in Iraq seen from Africa - Military officials say close to a quarter of foreign fighters captured in Iraq come from northern Africa, validating fears that ungoverned swaths of the continent are serving as both a pipeline and safe haven for Islamist radicals.

France joins U.S. on Syria demands - LONDON -- France joined the United States yesterday in calling for a firm stance against Syrian involvement in Lebanon, where Washington says Damascus' intelligence services are still active and plotting against anti-Syrian figures.

Anti-terror stand firm despite attack - An attack in Mauritania by Islamic terrorists this month has not diminished the West African nation's commitment to stand alongside Washington and others in the global fight against terrorism, the country's ambassador to the United States said.

Putin Amendment May Allow Third Term - MOSCOW (AP) - Lawmakers are considering an electoral amendment next week that could open the way for President Vladimir Putin to run for a third term, prompting the opposition to accuse his supporters of trying to cling to power.

World opinion of America in slow recovery - International opinion of the United States is slowly recovering from the lows recorded after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a new poll shows, but most Western nations have a more favorable image of China than America.

Hong Kong Leader Seeks to Rebuild Trust - HONG KONG (AP) - Hong Kong's new leader on Saturday pledged to rebuild trust in the government, a day after he was sworn into office in Beijing in the first leadership change since Britain returned the territory to China eight years ago.

African Union Sidesteps Zimbabwe Situation - HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) - The African Union on Friday sidestepped international demands to act against a so-called urban renewal campaign in Zimbabwe that has left as many as 1.5 million people homeless, while President Robert Mugabe defiantly congratulated police on the operation.

U.N. to Boost Troop Levels in Ivory Coast - UNITED NATIONS (AP) - The U.N. Security Council voted Friday to send more peacekeepers to Ivory Coast in an attempt to get the West African country's peace process back on track, while the country's president said the rebels should make the first move toward peace.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Daily Read Board - 24 JUN05

United States

Military brass hit Kennedy for saying war is 'quagmire' - The nation's top military leaders clashed with Sen. Edward M. Kennedy yesterday, challenging his assertion that the Iraq war has descended into a Vietnam-like "quagmire."

General Says Iraq Insurgency Still Active - WASHINGTON (AP) - The Iraqi insurgency is as active as six months ago and more foreign fighters are flowing in all the time, the top U.S. commander in the Middle East said Thursday, despite Vice President Dick Cheney's insistence that the insurgency was "in its last throes."

House pushes Navy to buy more ships in 2006 - Amid mounting concerns that the domestic shipbuilding industry is taking heavy hits, House authorizers and appropriators have dramatically increased the Navy's ship buys for next year, helping to feed a sector that is becoming more anemic just as China pours billions into its fleet.


Iran Plans to Resume Uranium Enrichment - TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran will resume uranium enrichment activities at some point, no matter who wins the presidential runoff race, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said Friday.

Blix: Iran Years Away From Nuke Weapons - STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Former chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix said Thursday it would take many years for Iran to achieve the capability to produce highly enriched uranium needed for an atomic bomb.

Iranians Pack Polls in Presidential Vote - TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iranians packed polling stations Friday in a tight presidential race between a moderate cleric who became the default choice for reformists and a hard-liner seeking to reclaim the values of the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Related: A Glance at Issues for Next Iran Leader | Main Duties, Powers of Iranian President

Iraq PM Says U.S. Forces Must Stay for Now - WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S.-led multinational force must stay in Iraq until Iraqi forces are fully prepared to defend the country by themselves, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Thursday.

Sunni Arabs Endorse 15 for Iraq Committee - BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Iraq's Sunni Arabs endorsed a list of 15 men Thursday to represent the minority on a Shiite-dominated committee drafting the new constitution.

Rice Urges Syria on Securing Iraq Border - LONDON (AP) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told Syria on Thursday to follow through on a pledge to secure its border with Iraq, pressing Damascus anew to help keep terrorists out of the war.

Groups Demand Lebanese President Resigns - BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) - The anti-Syrian coalition, fresh off its election victory, blamed Lebanon's president Thursday for the assassinations of several opponents of Damascus and demanded his resignation.

Two Thai Rubber Workers' Throats Slashed - BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Attackers in southern Thailand slashed the necks of a couple, almost severing their heads in the latest killings attributed to Islamic separatists in the region, police said Friday.

Armed Men Set Afghan Girls' School on Fire - PADKHWAI RAGHANI, Afghanistan (AP) - Armed men broke into a girls' school south of the Afghan capital and set it on fire, the latest attack on education for girls in the conservative country, officials said Thursday.

N. Korea Rebuffs Date for Nuclear Talks - SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - Top North Korean envoys declined to set a date for returning to international nuclear disarmament talks but returned home Friday with a pledge of food aid from Seoul and accords on resuming family reunions and other cooperation across their tense border.

U.S. Wants China to Pressure N. Korea - WASHINGTON (AP) - A senior Bush administration official suggested Thursday that China put economic pressure on North Korea to induce it to reopen nuclear weapons negotiations.

Italy Judge Orders Arrest of 13 CIA Agents - ROME (AP) - An Italian judge ordered the arrests of 13 people in the purported CIA abduction of an imam, who then was sent to Egypt, the Milan prosecutor's office said Friday.

Leaders of Europe's Socialist Parties Meet - VIENNA, Austria (AP) - Leaders of Europe's Socialist parties gathered in Vienna on Friday to assess the European Union's latest crisis and discuss how to strengthen ties between the bloc and its 450 million citizens.

Back at Sea

We're back at sea aboard the flagship of the "Lost ARG." I know, the Navy doesn't call our groups "ARGs" any more, we're "ESG's" now, but I've been here long enough that we were an ARG when I got here. (I'll explain why we're called the "Lost ARG" another time.) Anyway, my point is that life is busy and unpredictable again, so the Read Board and other posts will come whenever I get to them each day, whether it's during the work day or at oh-dark-thirty in the morning.

I am fairly senior on the ship, but not so senior that I no longer stand watches. We have a rotating schedule of watches that's based on the "nickel and dime" rotation. On smaller ships where they may be only three sections standing watches that means you stand watch for five hours and then get ten off - in which you have to fit your ordinary job, meals, PT and sleep - before you have to go back on watch. The standard watches run from 0700-1200, 1200-1700, 1700-2200, 2200-0200, and 0200-0700.

Here we're a big ship and have five sections, so we "dog" the watch lest we stand the same watch every day for weeks on end. I had watch from 2200 last night to 0300 this morning, so I'm still in the fog this morning after getting just three and a half hours of sleep. Once I grab a cup of coffee and a smoke I will be functional again. With the right amount of coffee a good SWO can function for 40+ hours on end without sleep - smokes are optional. We'll bitch about it and take a peculiar, masochistic sort of pleasure in it to be sure, but it can be done.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Daily Read Board - 23JUN05

United States

U.S. military specialists headed to Vietnam - U.S. military specialists will return to Vietnam to train its soldiers 30 years after the end of the Vietnam War, this time offering medical, technical and language support under an agreement struck with the Pentagon during Prime Minister Phan Van Khai's visit to Washington.

Rumsfeld Faces Questions on Troops in Iraq - WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional Democrats are demanding answers about the future presence of U.S. troops in Iraq as Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld heads to Capitol Hill to testify on progress in training Iraq's own security forces.

Republicans slam Pelosi's comments as 'demoralizing' - Seven Republican members of Congress said yesterday House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was "demoralizing" U.S. troops by saying twice Tuesday that the war in Afghanistan is over during a press conference she held to call for an investigation of detainee abuses.

Democrats Fear GOP Push on Flag-Burning - WASHINGTON (AP) - Symbols are everything in politics. They can get you elected - or defeated. That's why Democrats fear getting singed by a proposed flag-burning ban, forced into a vote that Republicans will cast as a test of patriotism.

U.S. to Donate Food to North Korea - WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is considering including seeds and small tools when it ships more than 50,000 tons of donated food to North Korea.

Religious Insensitivity Cited at Academy - WASHINGTON (AP) - Air Force investigators merely scratched the surface in their report about alleged religious intolerance at the Air Force Academy, two lawmakers said in calling for stricter congressional oversight of the military school.

Coast Guard Works to Head Off Funding Cuts - WASHINGTON (AP) - Struggling to fend off budget cuts, the Coast Guard laid out plans Tuesday to spend up to $24 billion to modernize its vessels and aircraft over the next 20 to 25 years.


Car Bombs Kill Nearly 40 People in Baghdad - BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Nearly 40 people died in a rash of car bombings in Iraq's capital over a 12-hour span, including two coordinated blasts early Thursday that killed 15 and wounded 28 in a central Baghdad shopping district, police said.

Nations pledge to support Iraq - BRUSSELS -- More than 80 countries and international organizations pledged yesterday to help Iraq improve its security and revitalize its economy at a conference that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called a "watershed" moment for the Arab nation.

Insurgent Death Toll in Afghanistan Rises - KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces surrounded a rebel hide-out in southern Afghanistan on Thursday, and the number of insurgents killed from three days of fighting rose to 102, the defense ministry said.

Mideast Seeks to Salvage Peace Hopes - JERUSALEM (AP) - Their summit may have been frosty, but Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas need each other and know it.

Saudi Terror Suspect Said Killed in Iraq - CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - One of Saudi Arabia's most wanted terror suspects was killed by an airstrike during fighting with U.S. and Iraqi forces in northwest Iraq, the leader of the al-Qaida in Iraq group said in a Web statement posted Thursday.

Report: Arrests Made Over Election in Iran - TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - A military figure and at least 25 other people have been arrested for suspected election violations during the first round of presidential voting last week, the state-run news agency reported Thursday.

U.S.: Syria Operatives Still in Lebanon - LONDON (AP) - The United States is certain that Syrian military intelligence operatives remain in Lebanon in defiance of international demands to withdraw all forces and agents, two senior U.S. officials said Thursday.

Mexico Detains Man Thought Tied to Terror - CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (AP) - A Lebanese-born man detained this week on Mexico's Baja California peninsula is believed linked to extremist organizations with ties to the Sept. 11 terror attacks, Mexican prosecutors said.

Cocaine Ring Suspected of Financing Hezbollabusted in Ecuador Suspected - QUITO, Ecuador (AP) - Police broke up an international cocaine ring led by a Lebanese restaurant owner suspected of raising money for Hezbollah, the Shiite Muslim group the U.S. classifies as a terrorist organization, authorities said.

Thai Man Beheaded During Lunch Hour - BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) - Suspected Islamic separatists beheaded a man at a teashop Wednesday and then left his head in a sack on the side of the road, the latest in a series of bold attacks across southern Thailand defying government attempts to restore peace.

Blair: European Union Must Modernize - BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair warned on Thursday that the European Union must modernize or risk failure as an economic bloc and social model, saying the EU's current political crisis was an opportunity for change.

North Korea Bashes Bush-Defector Meeting - SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea condemned President Bush for meeting a prominent defector detained as a child in a prison camp, saying Thursday the move chilled the atmosphere for a return to nuclear disarmament talks.

Panel Criticizes Spanish Gov't Over Bombs - MADRID, Spain (AP) - The Spanish government in power at the time of the Madrid train bombings underestimated threats from Islamic militants and responded to the massacre by misleading voters in the face of an imminent election, a panel of lawmakers said Wednesday.

Activists March Through Egyptian Capital - CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - A few hundred reform activists marched through a Cairo neighborhood Wednesday unmolested by riot police while denouncing President Hosni Mubarak, whose security forces historically have used a heavy hand against anti-government demonstrators.

Japan Marks Anniversary of WWII Battle - ITOMAN, Japan (AP) - Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi led a somber ceremony Thursday marking the 60th anniversary of Japan's last-stand battle on Okinawa, which left more than 200,000 dead and sped the collapse of the country's World War II defenses.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The MilBlogger's Rules of Engagement

Change 2, dated 30Apr06

Following are some rules of engagement that I adhere to in my blog, and might be of help to fellow bloggers in uniform (and retirees - see Rule 13).

1. Know the rules.

Before you start blogging, familiarize yourself with the rules your command, service and the DoD have laid down on how you can express yourself:

Uniform Code of Military Justice
DOD Directive 1344.10
SECNAV Instruction 5720.47B
Multi-National Corps - Iraq

This is not an authoritative list. Other instructions may apply, so don't assume you know everything there is to know by reviewing these. If you don't understand the rules, and since many of them are written by JAGs this is not uncommon, ask a JAG for interpretation or guidance before you post.

2. If you're not sure if you should post something, don't.

Naval aviators have have a saying about landing on an aircraft carrier: "if there's any doubt, there is no doubt." What that means is, if you aren't sure you can safely land that aircraft, there is no doubt what you should do - wave off and try again or divert to land. The same is true about blog posts. If you think a post might get you in trouble or compromise an operation, or you're not sure, don't post it. Save a copy on you hard drive and think about it for a while, let someone you trust review it or just forget about it altogether, but don't screw yourself or your fellow bloggers.

3. Don't assume your readers are all your friends.

No matter how hard you try, it is nearly impossible to remain anonymous if you blog for any length of time. Inside your command, your info systems geeks regularly review the firewall logs to see if users are accessing porn, racist and other forbidden materials. Sooner or later someone will notice that you're blogging.

Outside your command, as the posts stack up and your archive grows, somebody will be able to put the pieces together and figure out with some certainty where you work and possibly even who you are. Once that happens, if you're posting things you shouldn't, your commanding officer or senior enlisted advisor, or even worse an IG, may get an e-mail complaining about something you've posted. And if you don't know the rules and adhere to them, this can be very, very bad.

4. Assume people that wish to do harm to the United States are reading your blog.

Our enemies are not stupid, and some of them are busily collecting information from blogs every day. Don't believe it? Read this from the National Post of Canada:

According to a Chinese spying manual obtained by The Washington Times in 2000, more than 80% of all Chinese espionage focuses on open-source material obtained from government and private-sector information. The remaining 20% is gathered through illicit means from scientists at meetings, through documents supplied by agents or through electronic eavesdropping, bribes or computer hacking.
Your blog is an "open source", so be careful. Also, remember that while some of the things you post are completely legal, they may still have propaganda value among people with agendas, like some members of the media, certain political activists, terrorists and hostile governments.

5. Be careful what you say about your superiors - even the civilian ones.

Since someone that doesn't like you or your opinions is probably reading your blog, watch what you say or imply about the people for whom you work. This includes those people in suits waaaay at the top of your chain of command, and may include other prominent elected officeholders. UCMJ articles 88, 89, 92, 117, 133 and 134, as well as DoD Directive 1344.10, apply to things you write as well as things you say. The warning in the old poem, Laws of the Navy, still rings true:

Take heed what you say of your seniors,
Be your words spoken softly or plain,
Let a bird of the air tell the matter,
And so shall ye hear it again.
6. Just because you think it's funny or interesting, doesn't mean everyone will.

Not long ago a soldier in Iraq posted a picture of himself on the can taking a dump. He thought it was funny, but his CO thought it was an action that brought discredit to the armed forces and awarded him non-judicial punishment for his transgression. Remember rule #2?

In addition, you're not just a blogger, your an unofficial representative of your nation, service, unit and buddies - don't screw it up!

7. Don't use your blog to circumvent your chain of command.

Sounds like a no brainer, but someone out there will one day try this if it hasn't already happened. Your blog should not be the first place to air complaints about favoritism, harassment, fraternization, fraud, waste or abuse. If it's really a serious problem and your chain of command knows about it and doesn't appear to care, each and every service has an inspector general that can be contacted to file a grievance that your command can't easily squash.

One other note on this. If you have an interesting story about one of the above items of dirty laundry that you have a good reason to post, be sure to edit carefully to protect the privacy of everyone involved, especially the victim, and the reputation of the command. There are few things worse than being a normal, decent, hard-working member of an organization and getting a bad reputation because someone else screwed up.

8. Be clear about what's your opinion and what's official policy.

If you've spent more than about a week in uniform, you probably want to rant about a decision of your chain of command, parent service or national political or military policy. Stating your personal opinions is usually fine, and can be damn entertaining for your reader if you know how to do it right, but make sure it's obvious that you're stating just your personal opinions. Don't pretend to represent anyone other than you, and don't name names, appear to impugn the character or question the motives of your seniors. The truth of your comments may not keep you out of trouble as it would a civilian.

9. Having a "private" blog may not protect you.

When you create a blog, some providers will ask you if you want your work to be public or remain private. Making it private may reduce the likelyhood of running afoul of military policy or procedures, but it probably won't completely protect you. When you choose to create a private blog, usually that means the provider won't advertise the address of your site, but anyone who has the address can view it without any problems. And all it takes is one friend of a friend of a friend to post a link somewhere and presto, you've been outed. Even password protecting your site probably won't provide the level of protection needed to keep you immune, so just assume your work is public at all times.

10. Resolve disputes about postings at the lowest level.

If, as a milblogger, you come across another milblogger that's posting things you think are questionable, approach the blogger with your concerns first. If your concerns are not addressed to your satisfaction, raise your concerns -- in private -- to other, more senior and experienced milbloggers and get their thoughts and guidance on how to proceed.

If you ultimately decide you want to drop a dime on a blogger, do it at the lowest level possible. Start with the blogger's Senior Enlisted Advisor or Executive Officer and give them the opportunity to put the lid back on the jar first. Making an initial report to higher levels of command or an IG only invites a lot of bureaucratic overreaction, hate and discontent.

11. If someone challenges some of your content, take it seriously.

If someone suggests you as a blogger are breaking the rules, take them seriously until you're certain you know what their point is, what rules actually apply, and what the rules actually say. If it can't be resolved immediately and you're uncertain about the appropriateness of a post, push it back into the "draft" locker and get a legal opinion. After all, the advice of a JAG is free for military members, so it won't cost you anything but time.

12. Ignore the rules at your own peril.

As mentioned previously, there are a myriad of ways you can run afoul of your boss and the system with a blog. Whether you're working a blog that's unregistered, posting information that should be kept private, or airing your opinions about people that you work for, commanding officers have a lot of tools at their disposal to make your life unpleasant. And they frequently don't have to worry about the same legal nuisances civilian authorities do, like rules of evidence or right to legal counsel.

In addition, if you do something that makes it difficult for the rest of us to blog, you may find your name flying around the Internet with a lot of less than kind sentiments attached.

13. Your status as a retiree may not protect you.

Getting recalled to be punished is a longshot, I know, but retirees are still subject to the UCMJ. To wit, the case of Sheldon G. Hooper:

Selden G. Hooper (25 December 1904 – 7 February 1976) was the only Admiral of the United States Navy to be convicted by court-martial.

Hooper was the commissioning commanding officer of the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Uhlmann (DD-687).

In U.S. V. Hooper, 26 CMR 417 (CMA, 1958), Hooper was tried by general court-martial for sodomy, conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the Armed Forces, and conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. Hooper had retired as a Rear Admiral in 1950, and the acts for which he was tried were committed after he had retired. The defence questioned the military court's jurisdiction, but the court explained that "retired personnel are a part of the land or naval forces." The military retiree, then, is not simply a civilian. The court held that the admiral was "a part of the military forces of this country." He was described as "an officer of the Navy of the United States, entitled to wear the uniform and to draw pay as such." He was convicted and sentenced to dismissal and total forfeitures. [emphasis added]

Hooper was the only flag officer of the US Navy to be convicted by court-martial, and strictly speaking, the only Navy flag officer to ever be tried by court-martial. In 1995 Everett L. Greene was acquitted of sexual harassment and other related charges; he had been selected for promotion to Rear Admiral but was still a Captain when he was tried.
Again, it's not very likely, but there's no sense in making yourself a test case is there?

14. Know the rules, but share your story.

Lots of people out there want to read your story about life, triumph and loss, so don't let the rules completely prevent you from telling it. Edit your story carefully, get someone else's opinion or delay publication to stay within the rules, but put it out there for others to read. If you've got a really great story submit it to the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress.

Stick to these rules and hopefully we bloggers can all remain one great, big, happy, self-regulating family.

Terms and conditions:

I. If you agree and comply with these rules, join the MilBlogs ROE Project and spread the word!
II. These rules are "open source", so if you think I've missed something, or allowed my fingers to type before my brain was engaged, counterbattery shots should be directed to sailor(at)yankeesailor(dot)us.
III. These haven't been reviewed by a JAG or adopted anywhere as official policy, so they may be incomplete or inaccurate here and there (hmmm...that sounds a lot like rule #8).

Trackbacked to Outside the Beltway and Blackfive.