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.

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Upside of Multiculturalism

Mark Steyn gets a skin-to-skin hit on the "do as I say, not as I do" mentality of the Murderous Muslim Moonbats when it comes to freedom of speech and religion:

In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee" -- the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:

"You say it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: when men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."

Another plus: gallows are cheap and there's no extended procurement time.

How to Manipulate a Poll 101

Cherry picking. AMERICAblog has a post that shows just how the phrasing of questions, or just plain spinning of data, can manipulate the results of a poll.

AMERICAblog claims that the first edition of Public Agenda's foreign policy confidence poll, from last August, found that 64% of Americans believe the U.S. is unable to "force" democracy overseas. However, if you actually read the poll, it found that 64% of respondents didn't think, or didn't know if, the U.S. could "effectively help" other nations become democratic. Yet, half of respondents gave America an "A" or "B" for making the effort, and half also thought that spreading democracy will help reduce violence and conflict in the world.

But wait, it gets stranger. In the latest release of the poll, 66% of respondents said that "actively creating democracies in other countries" is very or somewhat important as a foreign policy goal(!), and 69% of Americans said "minding our own business and getting less involved in global issues" is very or somewhat important. Does that make sense? No, I didn't think so, either.

I think what both these polls say is that Americans have so manipulated by spin machines on both sides of the political spectrum, they really don't know what the hell they think!

A Terrible Reminder

A terrible reminder today that the Sea is always on duty:

An unstable cruise boat crowded with partygoers made a sudden left turn before capsizing in calm Gulf waters only a few hundred yards off the Bahrain coast, survivors said. At least 57 people drowned.

Bahrain television quoted the owners as saying the boat, an Arab dhow with high sides that had been modified to include two decks, was overloaded when it left port and capsized when most of its 137 passengers moved to one side.
Also a good object lesson to you Damage Control Assistants out there of the dangers of uneven and unstable loading, high centers of gravity and poor metacentric height.

Castro Dead?

Rumors were flying yesterday that Fidel Castro had died, but the Cuban government denies the report.

Not to worry, there'll be more spurious reports of this in the future, I'm sure. In the time honored tradition of Stalinist dictatorships, there must be at least two more false reports before he can actually die.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

MilBlog ROE Change 1

In light of a recent dustup over postings at one milblogger's site, I've issued Change 1 to the MilBlog ROE for review and comment.

Note changes in paragraphs 1, 3, 5, 10 and 11.

Trackbacked to Argghhh! and Mudville.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Michelle Marquez is Just the Kind of Immigrant We Need

From Michelle Malkin via Mudville. Some immigrants protesting in Dallas had done this:

And Mexican-American Michelle Marquez opposed the crowd and hauled Old Glory down:

She said "My heart is with the Mexican flag and Mexico, but I'm standing on American ground and I'm Mexican-American."

Good for her.

Navy to Redesignate DD(X) (.mil only)

Big Navy is changing the name on the DD(X) program:

The Navy is expected in the coming weeks to rename its DD(X) combat ship to DDG-1000.

According to a source, Navy Secretary Donald Winter has signed out a letter approving the name change. However, no reason was given as to why DD(X) will now be known as DDG-1000. The lead ship will, however, continue to be called the USS Zumwalt, in honor of Adm. Elmo Zumwalt, who served as Chief of Naval Operations from July 1970 to July 1974. Zumwalt died in 2000.
Why is this necessary? Oh well, I'm sure we'll hear more about it in the weeks to come. There is good news in the article, though:

Additionally, the Navy is expected to officially name the second Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), the USS Independence (LCS-2)...
I like it.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The Partisan Exploitation of Servicemen

AMERICAblog reports on the reissuance of DoD standards on the political conduct of servicemembers. Apparently a high profile Republican House member trod dangerously close to, if not over the line recently, but by digging through the links you can discover that both major parties, Democrat and Republican, are reported to have formally integrated the use of servicemembers as political props into their strategies.

Certainly military members need to know the rules of what we can and cannot do with respect to partisan political activities. The bigger question in my mind is, however, who's got our backs? Why should I as a member have to give the "thanks for the invitation, but no thanks?" Shouldn't someone at the civilian levels of control in the DoD be sending the message to the parties and pols to cease and desist?

Maybe Secretary Rumsfeld's memo is part of that process, but I've seen few other signs of a plan in action.

Getting the Arabs Involved in Iraq

There have been a couple of stories in the mainstream press in the last two days, one at the Washington Times and another at the NYT, about U.N. pressure to get Arab countries to increase their diplomatic presence in Iraq that I think are worth bringing up. Here's the introduction from the WT:

A top U.N. envoy urged Arab foreign ministers at a conference yesterday to work together to end Iraq's political deadlock, while Iraqi and other Arab leaders squabbled over the role of Iran.

"Neighboring countries and the region are responsible for sending a clear message to the Iraqi people that they are supporting the political process in Iraq," said Ashraf Qazi, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy in Iraq.
Now, I think it's a good thing for the Arab League to step up its involvement in the political process in Iraq for two reasons. First, it's a statement of support for representative government in the region, and second, it should be reassuring to the Sunni minority in Iraq that there will be some powerful Sunni voices whispering in the ear of the Shi'a dominated government of Iraq. But I think the Arab League, and other Muslim countries could do more.

I recall from my JPME that OAS observers were used with great success in a number of countries in Central America as they transitioned to democracy to ensure that the ruling party and security forces were acting within the law and applying the law in an even handed manner. Perhaps some of the more prominent and stable Sunni countries, like Jordan, Oman, Indonesia and Morocco should be encouraged to pony up some observers to accompany the Shi'a dominated army and security forces in Iraq to reassure Iraq's Sunni population that they'll be treated fairly.

The MilBlogger Responds

For those of you not familiar with the this story let me begin with a little context. I ran across a blog yesterday, at the top of which was a picture of a United States Sailor in uniform with a biography underneath identifying him as a serving nuclear submariner. After reading the site for not too long I discovered that this Sailor had written some pretty harsh personal attacks and impugned the character of his, and my, Commander-in-Chief, that I believed took that Sailor pretty close, if not already in, shoal water. Given that the Navy policy on bloggers is pretty permissive, and I want it to stay that way, I chose to take that Sailor to task in my blog, with a very predictable result - debate.

The Sailor started out by painting this as a Right vs. Left thing:

Someone seems to dislike my views, or at least the fact that I express them so...candidly. From a fellow MilBlogger who, as I do, sports the logo that says "Free Speech from those who help make it possible", I'm a bit surprised.

Well, not really. See, most of my fellow military folks are of the right-wing variety, and in that context "Free Speech" usually only includes what they agree with. The fact that someone can be in the military and have opinions contrary to the right (and *gasp* express them) is somehow offensive.
For those of you inclined to dismiss me as a Right Wing Moonbat and Bush Administration apologist off the cuff, perhaps you should examine my opinions on the Abu Ghraib prosecutions, the civil war in Iraq or the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy first. Then, the Sailor appears to impugn my character by suggesting I'm a hypocrite and follows it by variants of the "everyone's done it" and "it was okay when Clinton was in office" arguments:

Harsh? A bit...but it is one of those things I can't stand, hypocrisy. See, in the 90's I can clearly remember loud denunciations of one William Clinton (you may remember him, he was once the President of the United States). There were senior military officers and NCOs who loudly proclaimed they wouldn't retire until Clinton was out of office, because they didn't want their retirement certificates signed by "that traitor" (I heard that quite often). Clinton's foreign policy was derided in quite insulting terms by a large portion of the brass...often in very thinly disguised "I'm not saying this, but I'm saying it" ways.
I'll let the knee-jerk accusation slide, because I'm sure it was typed in the heat of the moment, and I'll say that I well remember the comments he describes, didn't approve of them at the time, and recall that one general officer was disciplined and others were cautioned over the conduct during Mr. Clinton's tenure. Then the Sailor wrapped up the accusation portion of his post with the following:

I recently read a letter in Navy Times about servicemen attending GOP rallies in uniform (a clear violation of the regs), and how many times did Bush have folks in uniform in the backdrop while on the stump. But that's OK, as it's for the right.
Ah, tilting at windmills. The issue of a sitting President appearing with servicemembers to deliver partisan political speeches is something no one will ever stop. President Bush did and does it, but then every president since Washington has probably done it. And if there are servicemen attending GOP rallies, let's have some names and photos and get it stopped. But that's not really what this is all about.

The issue here is not political advocacy, it's making ad hominem attacks against the Commander-in-Chief and other federal elected officials, regardless of their party, with the picture of a United States Sailor attached. The Sailor wrote "[my blog] is ... an '[expression of] a personal opinion on political candidates and issues, but not as a representative of the Armed Forces'," which is, I think, an incomplete characterization. When he makes comments like that about the President, particularly with his picture attached, he's not talking about a candidate, he's talking about his boss. And that's why I think it's a good order and discipline problem and possibly even an act that brings discredit to the armed forces.

In the end, though, it's not me that would get to decide, it's the man this Sailor calls "Captain." And, considering he's wisely taken down the picture of himself in uniform on his homepage and put some safe distance between his writing and his identity as an active duty member of the Armed Forces, I think he realizes that his legal opinions on the matter are not really the opinions he has to worry about.

As for me, as I stated at the outset, I like the Navy rules the way they are, and will continue to engage, plead and confront anyone who's posts I think may put that liberal policy in danger. And hopefully Big Navy will see that we can manage problems ourselves and resist issuing rudder orders.

As a result of these changes, I've expunged the bodies of previous posts on this topic and wish that Sailor a long and rewarding career at blogging.

Update: I discussed this with a JAG, and he pointed me to another subsection of DoD Directive 1344.10 that extends prohibitions on speech to all members:


In accordance with the statutory restrictions in 10 U.S.C. 973(b) (reference (b)) and references (g) and (h), and the policies established in section 4., above, of this Directive, a member on active duty shall not:
E3.3.11. Use contemptuous words against the officeholders described in 10 U.S.C. 888...
Those officeholders are "the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Homeland Security, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present..."

Thus, while it may not be a violation of Article 88 of the UCMJ for an enlisted member to use such terms, it may be a violation of a lawful regulation and punishable under Article 92.

Petty Officer Schumacher Strikes Again

An issue arose over some questionable content posted on a service member's blog. The problem was engaged with cool-headed, rational debate on all sides and the issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of all involved.

Nothing to see here ... move along.

Monday, March 27, 2006

More on the Blue/Red Divide

I've blogged on this before, but here's another example of the difference between the Blue and Red states:

The heartbroken family of a fallen Bay State [Massachusetts] soldier was devastated yesterday to find his memorial defaced by callous anti-war vandals who scrawled “Oil” and “Christian Crusade” on a sign commemorating his sacrifice.
In addition to their rantings about oil and religion, the vandals inserted words in magic marker that made the memorial read that Petithory was killed in action “w/o good education.”

Perception and Reality on Abu Ghraib

Despite his French name, Arnaud de Borchgrave at the Washington Times makes some important points about how the Army has handled the Abu Ghraib inquiry:

When a colonel testifies "under grant of immunity" against a sergeant who sicced dogs on prisoners at Abu Ghraib, it strikes the average onlooker as a miscarriage of military justice. Shouldn't it be the other way round? Or the sergeant being granted immunity to testify about a superior whose wink and a nod stained the country's honor, as it hadn't been in living memory?

Franz Kafka seemed to have joined the defense team when lawyers for dog handler Sgt. Michael Smith at the Abu Ghraib prison scandal trial suddenly dropped their request that an Army general involved in the affair be called to testify. Army Capt. Mary McCarthy told the military judge at the Washington's Navy Yard she no longer needed Army Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller to take the witness stand.
Even though dogs were first used at Gitmo, Gen. Miller says he never ordered Col. Pappas to use animals when questioning prisoners. But Col. Pappas already admitted in administrative hearings he improperly ordered the use of dogs. And it's an open secret among defense lawyers that Gen. Miller didn't put anything in writing. The cock of an eyebrow can be interpreted either way. Col. Pappas, according to lawyers, is convinced Gen. Miller got a wink, a nod or a hand signal from someone above his pay grade, most probably a civilian in the Pentagon.
There is little question Gen. Miller's call for tough, command-wide interrogation policies led to Col. Pappas' decision to authorize a dozen different techniques beyond those authorized in the Army Field Manual. Gen. Miller claims he discussed the use of dogs to help detainee custody and control. But Col. Pappas counterclaims Gen. Miller told him dogs were helpful at Gitmo by producing the right atmosphere (of fear) for interrogations.
To be sure, the allegations at this point are not backed up by evidence. But sometimes the appearance of impropriety with a perceived coverup can be worse than an actual impropriety promptly revealed. I think the Army's got a lot of work to do clearing the haze to salvage all our reputations from their recent decline.

How Not to Run a MilBlog

An issue arose over some questionable content posted on a service member's blog. The problem was engaged with cool-headed, rational debate on all sides and the issue has been resolved to the satisfaction of all involved.

Nothing to see here ... move along.

The Differences Between Green and Blue

An excellent point from a closed forum for Naval Officers on the differences between green and blue:

What's wrong with this picture boys and girls?

Top headlines on
- 'Raging Bulls' depart Iraq, head back to sea
- Delta squadron hits first Iraq deployment
- Marines prove wing support is more than fixing aircraft
- Darkhorse Marines deliver new wheelchair to Iraqi girl
- The transformation begins here (about USMC boot camp)
- Marines distribute food to Nigerien poor

Top 3 headlines on
-Coalition Forces Capture Terrorists in Baghdad
-Soldiers Free Hostages Held Since November
-Army Working to Protect U.S. from Missile Attack

Top 4 headlines on
- Fleet Diversity Council Sends Feedback to CNO
- Four Sailors Selected to Attend Women in Aviation International Conference
- Navy Helping Sailors Save Money, Environment
- Norfolk Military, Civilians Unite to Prevent Domestic Violence

Promoting diversity, preventing domestic violence and saving the environment are worthy goals, but what...are we? Green peace? NOW? Or the world's premier maritime fighting force? This PC [stuff] has got to stop!
It could be worse, though. Check out the Air Force's top story:

3.24.2006 - Feature - Airman named "Best Legs in a Kilt"
3.24.2006 - Stage facility provides aircrews one-stop support
3.24.2006 - Air Force releases UAV strategic vision
3.24.2006 - SECAF visits Kunsan
3.24.2006 - SECAF visits Kadena
3.24.2006 - WWII Airman receives belated Purple Heart
3.24.2006 - Teamwork keeps Bosnia air base safe

Russian Navy to Join U.S. in Training Exercise

Cowpens and Chosin will be playing with our "friends" the Russians this week.

More than 1,300 service members from the U.S. Navy and Russian Federated Navy will be taking part in bilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as a passage exercise this week.

The exercise will take place today through March 30, on and off the coast of Guam....

Sunday, March 26, 2006

USS McCampbell Collides With Tanker in Gulf

From the AP:

The USS McCampbell collided with the tanker late Saturday about 30 miles southeast of the Iraqi coastline. Two sailors and two crew members of the tanker were treated for minor injuries at the scene, Navy spokeswoman Lt. Leslie Hullryde said.

No oil was spilled in the collision. Both ships suffered minor damage but were deemed seaworthy.
Other reports suggest the damage to McCampbell was minimal:

The oil tanker Rokya 1, flying the Kiribati flag, and the USS McCampbell collided at 11:09 p.m. on Saturday about 56 kilometers (30 nautical miles) southeast of the Iraqi coastline.
Damage to the USS McCampbell was “cosmetic in nature,” she added, and would not affect the ships tour of duty in the region. Damge to the Rokya 1 was minor and limited to the bow area.
30nm southeast of the Iraqi coastline is not far from the Iraqi oil platforms, so there's some speculation that the collision might not have been completely an accident.

More to follow as it becomes available.

Update: I've heard nothing on this. Nada, zip, zilch, NOTHING. Which, in itself could be viewed as suspicious if you're conspiracy minded, because usually rumors are flying within a day. We shall see....

Saturday, March 25, 2006

I Thought This Horse Was Dead, Part II

OYE responded to my previous post on this topic.

For years, the Pentagon limited Category IV recruits (the lowest passing grade) to 2% of the annual cohort; this was doubled to 4% recently.
Whoa, that sounds ominous. That is until you take the time to put down your raspberry chai and almond cinnamon biscotti and actually do some research.

From 1991-2003 and the post-Cold War drawdown, Cat-IV recruits have made up 1% or less of all enlistees, so raising the ceiling to 4% sounds like a crisis. The fact is, however, from 1981-1990, Cat-IVs made up from 4% to just over 21% of enlistees, and the number of enlistees from the lowest category peaked out under Jimmy Carter in 1979 at a stunning 32.74% (with America involved in no extended conflicts around the world). Suddenly a ceiling of 4%, while certainly increasing, is not exactly alarming.
In October 2005, 12% of that month's recruits were Category IV. The Pentagon refuses to disclose the exact double-digit percentage for November; who knows what it is now?
And it may or may not be relevant by itself, because it's unlikely October's cohort is a representative sample of the entire year's cohort of recruits. Statisticians would call that an "outlier."

Thank you for playing, try again!

Reserve SWO Bonus

I hadn't heard of this before:

When did the Navy start paying bonuses to SWOs willing to serve in the reserves?

Russia Had Sources in U.S. Command in Iraq

More on Russian duplicity in Iraq (and intelligence gathering against America):

The Russian government had sources inside the American military command as it planned and executed the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to Iraqi documents released as part of a Pentagon report.

The Russians passed information to Saddam Hussein on U.S. troop movements and plans during the opening days of the war, according to the report Friday.

SWO Life Expectancy

See, SWOs will live longer than aviators.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave...

Flash traffic for the WaPo:

Great idea, lousy execution. Keep the blog, fire the plagiarist.

Update: good news - the plagiarist quit before he needed to be fired.

The Bush Administration's Communications Gap

David Ignatius has a piece in the WaPo that voices a problem I've been pondering for a while. Why does an administration that proved it pick a coherent message and stay on it so aggressively during two campaigns not seem capable of doing the same with its Iraq policy? In Ignatius' words:

The polls suggest that Bush is losing the ability to communicate effectively about the issue that matters most to him. He has a better story on Iraq than many people seem to appreciate: Iraqi politicians are in fact coming together toward a government of national unity; Iraqi troops are improving their performance; substantial reductions in the number of U.S. troops are likely this year. But to many Americans, judging by the polls, Bush's assertions sound like a broken record. His optimism comes across as happy talk.
And I'm not the only one in uniform that has noticed it:

Ask senior military commanders what they think about Bush and they will tell you they love his toughness -- but wish the White House could communicate its Iraq strategy better.
The most perplexing part is that the message is there, the administration just doesn't use it. You have to dissect every statement and interpret every nuance to get to it. Where was the message, best stated? In the President's National Strategy for Victory in Iraq:

  • The Political Track involves working to forge a broadly supported national compact for democratic governance by helping the Iraqi government:
    • Isolate enemy elements from those who can be won over to the political process by countering false propaganda and demonstrating to all Iraqis that they have a stake in a democratic Iraq;
    • Engage those outside the political process and invite in those willing to turn away from violence through ever-expanding avenues of participation; and
    • Build stable, pluralistic, and effective national institutions that can protect the interests of all Iraqis, and facilitate Iraq's full integration into the international community.
  • The Security Track involves carrying out a campaign to defeat the terrorists and neutralize the insurgency, developing Iraqi security forces, and helping the Iraqi government:
    • Clear areas of enemy control by remaining on the offensive, killing and capturing enemy fighters and denying them safe-haven;
    • Hold areas freed from enemy influence by ensuring that they remain under the control of the Iraqi government with an adequate Iraqi security force presence; and
    • Build Iraqi Security Forces and the capacity of local institutions to deliver services, advance the rule of law, and nurture civil society.
  • The Economic Track involves setting the foundation for a sound and self-sustaining economy by helping the Iraqi government:
    • Restore Iraq's infrastructure to meet increasing demand and the needs of a growing economy;
    • Reform Iraq's economy, which in the past has been shaped by war, dictatorship, and sanctions, so that it can be self-sustaining in the future; and
    • Build the capacity of Iraqi institutions to maintain infrastructure, rejoin the international economic community, and improve the general welfare of all Iraqis.
It's right there, on paper, so why do they have such a problem communicating it? Maybe the administration is having difficulty distilling the message into a sound bite. But one thing is for sure, they better get busy or America may yet lose another war on the battleground of public opinion.

Open posted in Mudville.

Civil War in Iraq

Krauthammer's dope slapping those that don't think what's going on in Iraq is a "civil war."

Today's big debate over Iraq seems to be: Is there or is there not a civil war? ... This debate appears to be important because the perception that there has been an outbreak of civil war following the Samarra bombing pushed some waverers to jump ship on their support for the war. Most famous of these is William F. Buckley Jr., who after Samarra declared that it is time for "the acknowledgment of defeat." Defeat? Yes, because of the inability of the Iraqi people to "suspend internal divisions" to allow a new democratic order to emerge.
As an aside, this inability to "suspend internal divisions" is a key problem, and there doesn't appear to be any resolution close at hand. As long as the political factions are closely aligned along religious and ethnic lines, Iraq may be a representative government, but one which exists perilously close to a tyranny of the majority. I don't however, think that it's time to call this a defeat and walk away. Embryonic democracy beats developed dictatorship any day. Back to the main point...

This whole debate about civil war is surreal. What is the insurgency if not a war supported by one (minority) part of Iraqi society fighting to prevent the birth of the new Iraqi state supported by another (majority) part of Iraqi society?

By definition that is civil war, and there's nothing new about it. As I noted here in November 2004: "People keep warning about the danger of civil war. This is absurd. There already is a civil war. It is raging before our eyes. Problem is, only one side" -- the Sunni insurgency -- "is fighting it."
Exactly. And I think in the end, the Sunnis will either accept the new order in Iraq and play ball on the political level, or they will be beaten into submission by the Shi'a Arabs and Kurds. That's the choice the Sunni Arabs have to make, accept it now, or accept it later -- with bruises.

Open posted on Stop the ACLU.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Dopey Draft Advocacy

In an article titled Rough Draft: The gross unfairness of an all-volunteer Army, Jacob Weisberg meanders through an odd laundry list of woes that he believes can be attributed to the all-volunteer force.

Most middle-class professionals, academics, and journalists don't have relatives or friends serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Servicemen are less than one percent of the population. The vast majority of Americans don't have relatives or friends serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Also, perhaps you and your pals don't know any because the circles you travel in, Jake, have spent the last thirty years bad mouthing the military and people who join.

We have not been called upon to make any sacrifices, financial or otherwise.
Wrong again. The president has repeatedly called on all Americans to sacrifice, and I would say the $200+ billion dollar pricetag of the War on Terror is a significant financial sacrifice. I would also say anyone who's travelled by air lately, or had their bags searched to get into a hockey game or onto the subway, might be making a sacrifice or two.

Finally, the young men who might be [drafted] do not want to contemplate having to kill, die, or be maimed in a war that inspires little idealism. Nor do their families want to dwell on such possibilities.
Liberal young men, Jacob, Liberal young men. Tens of thousands of Americans still enlist every year, and about 80% of them are Conservatives. Now, this is scary:

The real "two Americas" are not rich versus poor or religious versus secular but military versus civilian.
Less than one percent of Americans serve in the military at this time, and only 12.7 percent of Americans were veterans at the time of the 2000 census, a figure which hardly supports a claim of a "second America." But as a subscriber to an ideology that seeks to divide, I'm not surprised you groped for a "faultline."

The current distribution is consistent with periods when the United States had a draft that the sons of privilege could readily evade, by hiring "replacements" during the Civil War, or getting an educational deferment or lobbying one's draft board during the Vietnam era. Once again, young people without good opportunities in life are handling the fighting and dying for those with better things to do—only this time, there is not even a pretense of shared responsibility for defending the country.
Au contraire, my dear, elitist friend. Enlistees are much more likely to be high school graduates, more likely to have parents that are high school graduates, just as likely to have parents that have completed some or all of college, more likely to have employed parents, and their socioeconomic distribution matches the spectrum of the rest of America nicely. (I even included pictures, because I know how that helps intellectuals wrap their minds around things) .

My advice to you, Jake: get your facts straight next time.

Open posted in Mudville.

Briton Tried to Buy A-Bomb, Prosecution Contends

An update on an al-Qaida trial in Great Briton:

The prosecution in the trial of seven men accused of having links to Al Qaeda and plotting to carry out bomb attacks in Britain said on Wednesday that one of the men had inquired about buying an atomic bomb from Russian mafia figures in Belgium.

On Wednesday, the second day of the trial, a prosecution lawyer, David Waters, said the defendant, Salahuddin Amin, 30, had been asked by a man he met at a mosque in Luton, his hometown, to contact a third man, Abu Annis, about a "radioisotope bomb."

When Mr. Amin did so, Mr. Annis told him that "they had made contact with the Russian mafia in Belgium and from the mafia they were trying to buy this bomb," Mr. Waters said. While Mr. Amin later told the police that he did not believe it was likely that "you can go and pick an atomic bomb up and use it," the prosecutor said the incident was "an indication as to Amin's position in, and his usefulness to, the organization."
You can bet if the amateurs are trying it, the real players in radical Islamic circles are trying too - and are much more likely to be successful one day.

Despite Partnership, Russia Spying on U.S.

As I've said before, they're not our friends:

Even as the United States and Russia are cooperating to resolve international crises and track militant Islamic groups, Moscow is working at least as hard at stealing U.S. military and industrial secrets as during the Soviet era, current and former intelligence officials say.

Moscow's spies operate under a larger variety of "covers" than in Soviet days, experts say, and their morale is the highest since the mid-1980s. The Russian diaspora has created a pool of emigres, some of whom can be bribed, cajoled or blackmailed into helping.
After the Sept. 11 attacks, Russian President Vladimir V. Putin ordered a "massive" expansion of intelligence-gathering efforts in Western Europe and North America, Jane's Intelligence Digest reported. Officials and experts say Russian spying has significantly increased under Putin, a former KGB lieutenant colonel.

"In 1989 and 1990, after the Berlin Wall fell, we all wanted to light candles and sing 'Kumbaya' and wait for the peace dividends to role in," said James Casey, chief of the Eurasia section of the FBI's counterintelligence division. "But things haven't changed as much as we thought they were going to change in 1989."

The Kremlin considers Chechen insurgents and Islamic militants as the greatest threat to its security, Casey said. "But in the same breath they'll talk about the United States. They still consider us a strategic threat."

In Russian intelligence circles, the United States is no longer called the glavny protivnik, or "main adversary," as in Soviet days, said Oleg D. Kalugin, a former KGB general who worked as a spy in New York and Washington in the late 1960s and early 1970s. "Now, it is 'Priority No. 1.'"
Mostly, though, the Russians are interested in gathering military and technical secrets, FBI officials and outside experts say, particularly in U.S. efforts to build a ballistic missile defense system and space-based weapons. Moscow apparently has also targeted information about stealth technologies, such as those used to conceal warplanes and submarines.
And while there are good reasons to be concerned, there is a silver lining to the cloud.

But it is unclear how much Russia stands to gain from acquiring equipment such as high-tech sensors or lasers. John Pike, an arms expert and director of, said the manufacture of advanced devices requires not just sophisticated components but experienced managers, robotic systems and highly trained workers.

"The challenge [facing Russia] today is to find something that can be stolen and that can be used when you bring it home," he said.

Russia's military-industrial complex may not be up to the task, Pike said. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia's military technology was 10 years behind that of the United States; today, it is about 25 years behind, he said.

"I think they have made essentially no technological progress since the end of the Cold War," Pike said.

Firefox Problems

The Sailor site is not rendering right in Firefox. Anyone got an idea on how to fix it?

Iraqi Insurgents' Raid on Jail Thwarted

From the AP:

Emboldened a day after a successful jailbreak, insurgents laid siege to another prison Wednesday. This time, U.S. troops and a special Iraqi unit thwarted the pre-dawn attack south of Baghdad, overwhelming the gunmen and capturing 50 of them, police said.
Lesson learned and applied.

I Sense a Class Action Lawsuit Coming On

Read this headline, and ponder the implications:

College Board Finds 27,000 Unchecked SATs

Zoomers Getting New Duds Too

Looks like everyone has finally jumped on the bandwagon.

The new Airman Battle Uniform is ready for production and will be available in fiscal 2007, said the Air Force deputy chief of staff of personnel.
"We were looking for a uniform that would be easier to maintain," [Brig. Gen Robert R. Allardice] said. "We wanted to provide a uniform that the Airman wouldn't need to spend a lot of out-of-pocket expenses to maintain."
The new uniform design is a pixilated tiger stripe with four soft earth tones consisting of tan, grey, green and blue. The ABU will have a permanent crease and will be offered in 50-50 nylon-cotton blend permanent press fabric eliminating the need for winter and summer weight uniforms.

I Thought This Horse Was Dead

It's been a while since the "great chickenhawk debate" bubbled up through the choking scum on the surface of the Left's pond, but here we go again. Meet Operation Yellow Elephant.

Perhaps they haven't noticed that, though there are shortfalls here and there, the military has been meeting its recruiting goals. And Lefties are always decrying how Conservative the military has become, so I don't think it's Liberals that are helping the military meet its goals.

Maybe what the folks at OYE don't understand is that there are doers and there are talkers, and while the talkers are noisily banging away at their drums, tens of thousands of doers are dutifully, but quietly, "taking the King's shilling."

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

2005 Battle "E" Winners Announced

The 2005 Battle "E" winners have been announced. The number in parentheses is the number of other consecutive awards, so Bunker Hill has won four in a row.


Congrats to all.

Open posted in Mudville.

Smash is Out of Pocket

Smash is off to the remote parts of the world for his annual training, I'm guessing.

Stay safe, brother.

Bush Commits to Iraq Until 2009

This might be long enough to do the job:

President Bush said yesterday that future administrations will have to grapple with how and when to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, indicating that he doesn't see an end to U.S. commitments until at least 2009.

"That'll be decided by future presidents and future governments of Iraq," Mr. Bush said at his second press conference of the year, during which he also said Iraq is not in the middle of a civil war and defended his continued commitment of U.S. troops.

"If I didn't believe we could succeed, I wouldn't be there," he said. "I wouldn't put those kids there."
There are, in my mind, a few things that need to happen before we go.
  1. America must complete the training of an Iraqi security apparatus that is capable of defending, and loyal to, the system of government.
  2. The political factions in Iraq must demonstrate that they can work together effectively in government, and peacefully transfer power from one elected government to another.

Once Iraq can do those two things, we can depart.

Dog Handler Found Guilty in Abu Ghraib Abuse Trial

More accountability over abuse at Abu Ghraib:

A jury found an Army dog handler guilty Tuesday of abusing detainees at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison by terrifying them with a military dog, allegedly for his own amusement.

Sgt. Michael J. Smith, 24, was found guilty of six of 13 counts. The judge later dismissed one of those six counts, saying it duplicated another.

Smith had faced the stiffest potential sentence of any soldier charged so far in the Abu Ghraib scandal -- up to 24 1/2 years in prison. Instead, with the five counts, he faced a sentences of up to 8 1/2 years in prison, forfeiture of pay and allowances and dishonorable discharge. His sentencing was scheduled later Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Really Simple Explanation of Why the Wiretaps Are Legal

More legalistic explanations on why the Bush Administration's wiretaps of international phone calls are legal from Byron York:

In its opinion, the Court of Review said the FISA Court had, in effect, attempted to unilaterally impose the old 1995 rules. "In doing so, the FISA Court erred," the ruling read. "It did not provide any constitutional basis for its action — we think there is none — and misconstrued the main statutory provision on which it relied." The FISA Court, according to the ruling, "refus[ed] to consider the legal significance of the Patriot Act's crucial amendments" and "may well have exceeded the constitutional bounds" governing the courts by asserting "authority to govern the internal organization and investigative procedures of the Department of Justice."

And then the Court of Review did one more thing, something that has repercussions in today's surveillance controversy. Not only could the FISA Court not tell the president how do to his work, the Court of Review said, but the president also had the "inherent authority" under the Constitution to conduct needed surveillance without obtaining any warrant — from the FISA Court or anyone else. Referring to an earlier case, known as Truong, which dealt with surveillance before FISA was passed, the Court of Review wrote: "The Truong court, as did all the other courts to have decided the issue, held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information. . . . We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power."
Isn't that helpful? No, I didn't think so either, so I'll put it in terms most people can understand.

Not long ago I had to sit through many hours of briefings on what is and isn't a legal search under the law. Most everybody can list what's required, probable cause, a warrant, and so forth. But for these wiretaps, the reason they're legal is because they're not a search for law enforcement purposes. They're intelligence gathering for national defense purposes.

You see, we're at war. In prosecuting a war, the president has the duty to fight the war as best he can, and collecting intelligence on the enemy is part of his responsibility. When we were worried about the Soviet Navy coming over the horizon and firing missiles at America, we didn't need to go get a warrant to try to intercept and exploit their communications. Same thing goes for terrorists. If they are intent upon killing thousands of Americans and destroying "the Great Satan", and are using e-mail or cell phones or whatever to communicate plans and orders, the national defense purpose trumps the law enforcement purpose and different rules apply.

This principle applies in other situations, too. For example, a number of people are up in arms because, three years after 9/11, much of the cargo that enters the country by ship isn't inspected upon arrival. Should Homeland Security need a warrant for each and every one of those inspections? The ACLU might want to aruge they do, but the right answer is no, because it's not done primarily for a law enforcement purpose, it's done to keep really bad things from being smuggled into the country to kill Americans. Now, if the inspectors discover two tons of cocaine in one of those containers while inspecting for the national defense purpose - so sad, too bad - the shipper can still be prosecuted because the container was inspected for a legal purpose.

See, isn't that easy?

Mother Says School Didn't Notify Her Of Alleged Sex Assault

This story got miniscule attention in the local media in Providence, but I think it deserves more. The local NBC affiliate gave it this coverage:

Two 13-year-olds, a boy and a girl, are involved in what authorities are calling a case of sexual assault.

The girl's mother is angry over the way the middle school in West Warwick is handling the incident. She says authorities at Deering Middle School never notified her about the incident. The boy has been suspended.
The family's attorney, however, was on the Dan Yorke show last Friday and filled in some of the blanks.

Basically, the girl's accusation is that the boy approached her, put one hand on her chest or shoulder to hold her down in her chair, and grabbed her crotch with his other hand. The two were in the library at the time.

Following the alleged assault, the girl reported it to a school official, and the principal's decision was to merely suspend the boy for five days - and just sent the girl home on the bus. In addition, the principal waited three days to report it to police, because, the attorney asserts, she didn't think the offense was big deal.

The family attorney also said the principal volunteered that the school had had a number of problems with the boy. After police investigated the incident, the boy has been charged with 2nd degree sexual assault.

One more reason the Agents of Chaos are homeschooled.

Red Americans at the Washington Post

The Washington Post is launching a new blog, focused on the concerns and beliefs of "Red Americans." For those of you Cold War dinosaurs, "Red Americans" are people that vote Republican and typically live away from major urban areas.

Most of the column introducing the blog is a sales pitch, because the WaPo knows that Lefty Moonbats are going to come even more unhinged when they hear about it, but the column does hit one nail on the head.

On issue after issue, Republicans have given in to the wisdom of the MSM and the beltway talking heads instead of listening to their constituents and the conservative political base. On the size of government, on immigration and on issues of federal power, Republicans have adopted the same Washington strategies that doomed the Democrats in the 1994 cycle, as this article yesterday illustrates. They've grown fat and happy on pork contracts, and forgotten why they were sent to this town in the first place.

Even President Bush is guilty of this - would a White House that put principle before patronization, listened to its base, and remained focused on election season ever make the gargantuan mistake of nominating Harriet Miers?

Americans' Confidence in the Military OK, but Slipping

Strategy Page is touting the fact that the U.S. military is still the most respected institution in America, but they neglect to note the significant slippage in the past three years.

For the 2006 survey, 47% of Americans said they had "a great deal of confidence" in the military, but in 2005 & 2004 62% of Americans agreed, and in 2003, 71% agreed.

And there are some other interesting numbers that don't bode well for America. Here are the percentages of Americans saying they had "a great deal of confidence" in other institutions:

Supreme Court - 33%, down from 41% in 2002
White House - 25% down from 50% in 2002
Public Schools - 22%
Courts & the Justice System - 21%
TV News - 19%
The Press - 14%
Congress - 10%

So, what's the deal here? The easy answer is that the military is slipping because of negative press coverage and one-sided coverage of events in Iraq. However, if only 14%-19% of Americans have confidence in the media, should press coverage really be having that much of an effect?

More on Sailors Serving Ashore in Iraq

More info from the San Diego Union-Tribune on the CNO's rationale for sending more Sailors to shore positions in Iraq:

Even as the Pentagon looks for ways to cut its Middle East ground force of 168,000 troops, the Navy's top officer has pushed aggressively to find more shore-based roles for his sailors so they can fill in for soldiers and Marines.

“It's very clear that the ground forces have been in a very tough rotation over the last several years,” Adm. Michael Mullen, the chief of naval operations, said at a Pentagon news conference last month. “If we can pitch in and help relieve some of that, we're going to do that.”

Before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Navy's shore-based presence in the Persian Gulf numbered 1,500. Most of these sailors served with the 5th Fleet, headquartered in Bahrain.

That number has swelled to 10,000, with sailors serving from Afghanistan to the Horn of Africa. About 4,000 of them are in Iraq, the Navy said.

Next year, Mullen is planning to boost both figures by about 2,000 each. The Navy's total force worldwide is about 356,000.

Open posted to Argghhh!

Troop Morale Holds Steady in Iraq

Despite the reports of American troops bustling to withdraw and come home, AP reports that morale remains high among Americans in Iraq.

The seasons swing from cold and muddy to unbearably hot, the roadside bombs are deadly and the long separations from loved ones are more draining as third and fourth deployments loom. Re-enlistment is down, and generals acknowledge victory is uncertain.

Yet morale among U.S. troops in Iraq remains somewhat positive - without the frequent suicides and insubordination that shook the draft-era army in the last years of the Vietnam War.

Morale in today's military may reflect the fact that the Iraq war so far has taken a fraction of the lives lost in Southeast Asia. Many troops also see their efforts in Iraq as eroding global terrorist groups.

Don't expect this reporting trend to continue in the legacy media, though.

Open posted in Mudville.

Father Uses Shock Collar on Children

The Agents of Chaos are wild, but I've never had to consider this.

Monday, March 20, 2006

1,000 More Sailors Expected to Join Ground Forces in Iraq

I heard about this when I was stashed in Millington last fall. Apparently the CNO's guidance is that 25% of Sailors on shore duty should be augmenting forces in Iraq, Afghanistan or Djibouti at any given time.

Three years after Baghdad fell, the Navy is poised to dramatically increase the number of sailors in Iraq and Afghanistan, filling gaps in Army and Marine Corps units.

The seamen, called "individual augmentees," support ground operations thousands of miles from the nearest port, in deployments that can be far different from the Navy's traditional role.
New requests for Navy personnel in the Middle East and Afghanistan are coming in weekly. There are 4,000 sailors in Iraq — a number that is expected to increase to 5,000 in the next few months. It is unclear how many more sailors will be called to serve ashore by the end of the year.

Open posted to Argghhh!

Sunday, March 19, 2006

War Protests Report Light Turnout

Looks like the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq is not the as big a deal to ordinary people as the anti-war activists like to portray.

Protests...were held in Australia, Asia and Europe, but many events were far smaller than organizers had hoped. In London, police said 15,000 people joined a march from Parliament and Big Ben to a rally in Trafalgar Square. The anniversary last year attracted 45,000 protesters in the city.
The Times Square protest in NY drew a scant 1000 protesters, and the DC protest by the Vice President's residence only reported 300 attendees. This was an interesting comment:

Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ said the rallies nationwide are a "tapestry of resistance."

"Most people believe we aren't crazy anymore," he said.

Judging by the number of people that turned out, most people don't give you a moments' notice anymore, Reverend. And your "tapestry of resistance" is looking a little threadbare.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Navy Exchanges Fire With Suspected Pirates

Cape St. George and Gonzalez, mixing it up with pirates again:

Two U.S. Navy warships exchanged gunfire with suspected pirates Saturday off the coast of Somalia, and one suspect was killed and five others were wounded, the navy said.

Twelve suspects were taken into custody after the early-morning shootout, said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown, spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

No sailors were wounded in the battle, which occurred at about 5:40 a.m. local time, approximately 25 nautical miles off the Somali coast in international waters.

The battle started after the USS Cape St. George and USS Gonzalez, which were patrolling as part of a Dutch-led task force, spotted a 30-foot fishing boat towing smaller skiffs and prepared to board and inspect the vessels.

The suspected pirates were holding what appeared to be rocket-propelled grenade launchers, the navy said. When the suspects began shooting, naval gunners returned fire with mounted machine guns.
RPGs? That's not good.

Update: The suspected pirates turned out to be Somali militiamen, and they claim they were patrolling Somali waters to ward off illegal fising. The militiamen also claim the Navy fired first, a claim a Navy spokesman denied.


Russia Considering Opting Out of INF Treaty?

We heard earlier this week that Russia intends to conduct a major modernization of its naval forces. Now, I ran across a report from last week that I missed. Not long ago Gen. Vladimir Vasilenko, the head of the Russian Defense Ministry's Research Institute, stated that Russia could scrap the INF Treaty and redeploy SS-18 Satan missiles.
U.S. military analysts are asking these questions after a well placed, senior Russian general Wednesday was reported in a major Moscow newspaper as saying Russia might consider opting out of the 1987 Intermediate-Range and Short-Range Nuclear Forces Nuclear Forces Treaty
The U.S. military analysts suggested the possibility that Vasilenko represented some group of ultra-nationalist hard-liners in the Russian military leadership. But if that was the case, they said, the group must already enjoy a very strong political umbrella of support to protect any senior serving officer like Vasilenko who made such potentially embarrassing statements.
That could leave the possibility that Vasilenko, who occupies a key, politically sensitive planning post in Moscow, was not speaking out of line at all but was floating some kind of trial balloon that could be easily deniable precisely because it was a relatively lower-level officer who was saying it.

This may be more likely because Vasilenko's suggestion did not come out of a total vacuum. Last year, Defense Minister Ivanov startled U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld by suggesting to him at one of their meetings that the INF Treaty should be scrapped.
There's a good deal of speculation about whether any SS-18s would be redeployed along the European frontier, but little conclusive indications. Perhaps Russia is getting worried about the ballistic missile threat from the Middle East. Either way, this would be a bad thing.

Open posted in Mudville.

Friday, March 17, 2006

It's Not My Job, Man

This has had me spun up for some time, but my rage was just simmering, I guess. Justice Ginsburg has turned the heat up again, however, with a speech brought to my attention by Powerline via Stop the ACLU:

Ginsburg’s speech was titled “A Decent Respect for the Opinions of [Human]kind.” In it, Ginsburg argued explicitly for the relevance of foreign law and court decisions to interpretation of the American Constitution. Ginsburg did not try to hide the partisan nature of this issue; at one point, she referred to “the perspective I share with four of my current colleagues,” and she specifically criticized Justice Antonin Scalia, Judge Richard Posner, and the two bills that were introduced in Congress in 2004 and were broadly supported by Republicans.
For the uninitiated, the issue is American judges using foreign law and court decisions to rule on matters of American law. Justice Ginsberg is quoted as saying:

To a large extent, I believe, the critics in Congress and in the media misperceive how and why U.S. courts refer to foreign and international court decisions. We refer to decisions rendered abroad, it bears repetition, not as controlling authorities, but for their indication, in Judge Wald’s words, of “common denominators of basic fairness governing relationships between the governors and the governed.”
Like the fairness between the Chinese government and its people? Or perhaps the fairness between Robert Mugabe and his people? And, why is foreign judisprudence relevant at all? If I'm not mistaken, the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were crafted specifically to define a new and unique relationship between government and the goverened. Are these documents now irrelevant and Americans and their government now expected to behave towards one another in a manner as the governments and governed in other nations? Is this some [Liberal] judicial game of keeping up with the Joneses?

As for control, we as Americans through our legislature get to choose that which controls us, not judges. Judges are merely required to decide whether legislation is consistent with the Constitution. If Americans want judges in South Africa or Italy or even the United Kingdom to influence American law, then Americans can do it through Congress. Judges don't get to make that decision.

Make no mistake. This trend is not madness, but a reasoned, intellectual sleight of hand to butress opinions and ideology these Justices know Americans won't like and have no business gaining the respect of the rule of law under our system. Americans, and only Americans should decide what's right for America.

The last time I reviewed my oath of office, the only document referred to was the Constitution of the United States. And, just as importantly, I'm obligated to defend it against both foreign and domestic enemies. The bottom line is this: when Americans, Madame Justice, are sufficiently outraged and proceed up the steps to the Supreme Court to carry you off, don't expect me to stand in their way.

Meet Our Enemies

The Jawa Report's got images of how the Taleban treated detainees, and it makes the U.S. Army reservists at Abu Ghraib look like rank amateurs. Something tells me no Taleban commanders will be held accountable, and Mullah Omar won't be asked to step down.

Admiral Turner, where art thou?

Warning: do not view right after lunch.

Blogger's Got the Bird Flu

I've had all sorts of problems with Blogger since last night. Missing files, java sockets that mysteriously disappear. And it looks like I'm not the only one.

At leasy my page is still here.

Update: looks like the Salamander's got the bug, too.

The Problem with "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

A story from the Washington post brings me back to my issues with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. The piece reports changes to security clearance screening rules enacted by the Bush Administration.

Rules approved by President Bill Clinton in 1997 said that sexual behavior may be a security concern if it involves a criminal offense, suggests an emotional disorder, could subject someone to coercion or shows a lack of judgment.

The regulation stated that sexual orientation "may not be used as a basis for or a disqualifying factor in determining a person's eligibility for a security clearance."

Bush removed that categorical protection, saying instead that security clearances cannot be denied "solely on the basis of the sexual orientation of the individual."

The new rules say behavior that is "strictly private, consensual and discreet" could "mitigate security concerns."
This change is fine with me, because it allows those granting the clearance to use their judgement when deciding whether a behavior is a security concern. My issue with "don't ask, don't tell" is a little more esoteric, but important none the less. First, here's A good summary of the policy from the Wikipedia entry linked above:

More generally, "Don't ask, don't tell" has come to describe any instance in which one person must keep their sexual orientation and any related attributes, including their family, a secret, but where deliberate lying would be undesirable.
My issue with this policy is that any policy that requires a member to deliberately keep something as significant as sexual orientation a secret will require the member to lie at some point, even if it's a lie of omission. And in the services, honesty is a key to integrity and honor.

So, how can Americans, and military and civilian leaders, justify a policy that will ultimately require a member to be secretive and probably dishonest?

Navy May Get 'Gay Drama Training'

First this, now this:

The Royal Navy may introduce "drama-based training" to modernise staff attitudes towards homosexuality, the service's head of personnel says.

Vice Admiral Adrian Johns told a gay workplace conference that some navy employees "need to be brought into line with 21st century thinking."
Ugh. I've got to drop a line to my buddy on 'Lusty and give him a ration. And isn't "gay drama" redundant? I don't know about your experience, but in mine, I've never had any interaction with gays that didn't involve drama.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Draft National Security Strategy Released

The White House has released a draft update to the NSS, and here are the highlights, from the NYT:

  • It identifies Iran as the country likely to present the single greatest future challenge to the United States. The strategy document declares that American-led diplomacy to halt Iran's program to enrich nuclear fuel "must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided," a near final draft of the document says. But it carefully avoids spelling out what steps the United States might take if diplomacy fails, and it makes no such direct threat of confrontation with North Korea, which boasts that it has already developed nuclear weapons.
  • In a reflection of new challenges, the document also covers territory that the first strategy sidestepped, warning China, for example, against "old ways of thinking and acting" in its competition for energy resources. China's leaders, it says, are "expanding trade, but acting as if they can somehow 'lock up' energy supplies around the world or seek to direct markets rather than opening them up — as if they can follow a mercantilism borrowed from a discredited era."
  • In a reflection of growing tensions between Washington and Moscow, the administration also expresses deep worry that Russia is falling off the path to democracy that Mr. Bush spent much of his first term celebrating. "Recent trends regrettably point toward a diminishing commitment to democratic freedoms and institutions," the document reads. In a much tougher tone than the 2002 document, it emphasizes that the future of the relationship with Russia "will depend on the policies, foreign and domestic, that Russia adopts."
  • But chief among the sections that remain unchanged is the most controversial section of the 2002 strategy: the elevation of pre-emptive strikes to a central part of United States strategy. "The world is better off if tyrants know that they pursue W.M.D. at their own peril," the strategy says. It acknowledges misjudgments about Iraq's weapons program that preceded the invasion three years ago, but it is clearly unwilling to give ground on that decision. The report notes that "there will always be some uncertainty about the status of hidden programs since proliferators are often brutal regimes that go to great lengths to conceal their activities."
  • Sections of the new document discuss at greater length the need to strengthen alliances, with specific references to supporting NATO and reforming the United Nations.

Strongsville Marine earns Navy Cross

This is lame. Not that SSGT Viggiani was recognized with the Navy Cross, but that the Cleveland Plain Dealer dissed him with this pathetic coverage:

Marine Staff Sgt. Anthony Viggiani, of Strongsville, recently was awarded the Navy Cross -- the second- highest award in the Marine Corps -- for heroism in Afghanistan.

A cave housing enemy fighters pinned down his squad with heavy fire on June 3, 2004. Two of his men were wounded. Viggiani tossed a grenade in the cave, killing the fighters.

Viggiani suffered a bullet wound in his leg. He is now a Parris Island drill instructor.
No, there's no more. That's it. According to the Plain Dealer, he just "tossed a grenade in the cave." Here's the full version, courtesy of the Corps:

"On that day, we were going on convoys and were receiving intelligence reports all day," Viggiani said reflecting upon the day in Afghanistan. "It wasn't any different from the other days at all."

Viggiani ventured into details as he remembered the exciting events.
"We saw about twenty insurgents with weapons going up the valley," stated the Strongsville, Ohio native.

He knew there would be action and was just waiting for the "go" from his superiors.

"We got the word to 'go' and I said 'aye sir.' First and third squad went to the right while second took the left," Viggiani said demonstrating with his hands the route the infantrymen took.

"As we were moving up through the valley, third squad moved to the right flank while [first] squad moved straight ahead.

From there we picked up and held position while the rest of the company caught up to our position."

Viggiani then moved his second fire team to the left and first fire team to the right so that they would have interlocking fields of fire through the valley.

"The second fire team started taking fire from the enemy insurgents, the fire team returned fire and ended the enemy insurgents' firing."

Everything suddenly calmed down and Viggiani told his first sergeant that he would move to check on his first fire team just to see how they were positioned and to make sure everything was all right.

"I had finally got to my [fire team], but not even a minute later, the first sergeant was on the radio, telling me 'Get down here, I need a [fragmentation grenade] I need a [fragmentation grenade] now!'"

Viggiani quickly rushed to the first sergeant.

Two Marines were injured approximately 100 meters away, on the slope opposite the valley Viggiani and his Marines were on.

"I had got to first sergeant and I was asking him 'Where are they, where are they?' He told me my second fire team was pinned down pretty hard, then pointed in the general direction of where the machine gun firing was coming from."
Viggiani pursued in the pointed direction down the mountain in search for his team and to neutralize the threat from the enemy.

"As I was moving down, I saw a hole, it wasn't big. If you took of all of your gear maybe you could slip into it. I looked and I saw some fabric. I shot three rounds in the hole and something moved, and then I shot four more rounds and threw a grenade in the hole and pinned myself against a rock."

What seemed like a hole to Viggiani was in reality a cave where three armed insurgents were firing upon his squad from.

"I never knew the cave was right there, I didn't know anything... I just knew I had to keep a promise I made to my boys," Viggiani said affectionately, referring to his squad members as his boys. "I had promised to bring them all back home."

Viggiani said his company commander called for a medical evacuation where two of his Marines were taken into medical care, but he denied his injured status.

"I had blood on my leg, but I didn't want to leave. I did not want to leave the other Marines," he said when asked why he didn't go to the battalion's landing team command post.

In the process, Viggiani was wounded by rifle fire from the adjacent enemy position, yet he continued to lead his Marines in the attack as stated in Viggiani's citation.

After killing the three hidden insurgents, Viggiani continued with his squad and defeated the enemy by killing a total of 14 Anti-Coalition fighters.

Oh, and for those of you that think Marines are so tough, Viggiani also commented, "I didn't want to tell [my mom] because I knew she would be upset. But when I did call her, out of the five minutes I got to talk to her, three and a half were spent calming her down."

Putin Names Fleet Modernization Among Russia’s Priority Tasks

The bear stirs:

The modernisation of the Navy and reinforcement of the submarine fleet’s personnel rank among Russia’s priority objectives to rule out the possibility of any political pressure on the country, President Vladimir Putin said.

“The qualitative technologic modernisation of the submarine fleet is now regarded as a priority task of the state,” Putin said on Wednesday, addressing a solemn meeting, held on the occasion of the Russian submarine fleet’s centenary.

Putin stressed, “Today the Navy is one of the important tools of Russia’s defence policy. Concentrated there are state-of-the-art shipbuilding technology and arms systems that excel foreign counterparts in many ways.”

“These factors are very important for ensuring the security of Russia and global stability and play a key role in strategic deterrence on the regional and global scale,” he said.

Navy May Let Uniformed Officers Join Gay Pride Parade

This is madness:

The Royal Navy signalled today that it might, for the first time, allow uniformed officers to attend a gay pride event.

The second sea lord, Vice Admiral Adrian Johns, is expected to say in a speech at a gay rights conference later today that a "significant number" of lesbian and gay sailors are "very keen" to march in uniform at EuroPride in London.

He will add that the navy is working with gay rights campaigners Stonewall and gay officers on the possibility of having an "overt service presence" at the parade on July 1.

Uniformed members of the police, RAF and army have all previously taken part in UK gay pride festivals, but the navy has yet to follow suit.
Now, gays are allowed to serve openly in the RN, so it's not a good order and discipline issue. But I'm not sure why the RN would want uniformed personnel doing public advocacy of any type on their own.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Hard Question on Shipbuilding

This Sailor and the Salamander have for some time been contemplating the answer to the ugly question that ricochets around in the back of every shipdriver's mind lately: where are all the ships going, and when are we going to get more?

The answer to the first part of that question is, our current ships are wearing out and are being retired at a breakneck pace to recover maintenance dollars to fund new construction. This makes sense, both logically and economically, but from a security standpoint it means America has the smallest Navy since the First World War.

The second part of that question is getting harder to answer because of the spiraling cost of shipbuilding. And the spiral I'm writing about is not the good spiral of "spiral development." It's the "death spiral" type, and the slow-motion, "Oh My God!" reaction is being acted out in Congress.

For those of you in need of context, try reading some of these posts:
  1. Tiffany Navy: the LCS chapter
  2. Shipbuilding Defense Orders Flank Speed
  3. The “R” On 36M-4R
  4. The HAC Hacks Shipbuilding Plan
  5. Is the Navy Getting a Clue About Shipbuilding?
  6. Navy Shipbuilding Plan a Non-Starter

The latest incoming rounds that have fueled the flames are reports that new Littoral Combat Ship will come in at least 44% over budget, and the LPD-17 is running more than 50% over budget.

But Chap drags me back into the issue by asking the hard question: "What [can we] do to make it better?" He comments:

Every new weapons system has its detractors, from the people who wanted different capabilities, the people who wanted a different mix of stuff, the people unhappy with the risk involved with the decision to leave off (insert capability here), the people who think that capability is a waste of time, the people who are passionate that their alternate solution will be better, to the people who feel the new thing is a threat to either their old thing or a different new thing. Lots of exquisite and passionate complaining. Every new first of class I’ve ever studied has had people passionately state–with data to back it up–that the new concept as it’s being built is a failure, whether or not it’s been useful in the fleet later (depends on the people, the capability, and the point in history).
To answer Chap's question, I think the problem is the people that make the acquisition decisions are way to focused on getting systems that are a generation or more ahead of anything anyone else has, and not focused enough on having a sufficient number quality ships manned by well trained Sailors.

As Norman Polmar noted, when both opponents have a sufficient number of ships to get to the fight, quality will edge out quantity. But when one side is relying on a few really good platforms to overcome a multitude of decent platforms, the numbers trump the quality, all other factors being equal.

Which brings us to another point: all other factors aren't equal. Sure, there are navies out there that have very capable and well-trained sailors. But they're not our enemies. Right now our enemies are driving run-down merchant ships, creaky dhows and Boston Whalers with small arms or explosives. And even if one of those rogue nations with a significant navy like Iran decides to pick a fight, because of differing levels of training, you could put American Sailors on their ships and we would still win. I've played war with a number of navies in that part of the world, and while they're buying fairly decent platforms, they haven't progressed past the "fire everything you've got in the general direction of the enemy and run like hell" training level.

So, in short, I think the first change in the shipbuilding equasion can be summed up with one sentence: Stop trying to make every new ship class the "best thing since sliced bread." If the Marines can make do with "good men", the Navy should be able to make do with the right number of "good" ships.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Pentagon Plans "Stealth Shark Spies'

More weird ideas from DARPA:

Pentagon scientists are planning to turn sharks into "stealth spies" capable of tracking vessels undetected, a British magazine has reported.

Shark brain implants that could turn the fish into “stealth spies” are being studied in a research project funded by the Pentagon.

Swimming in a ship’s wake, a remote-controlled shark could track an enemy vessel’s movements without being noticed, and under its own power.

The navy also hopes to exploit sharks’ natural ability to sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails left by a vessel.
A team led by Prof Barry Costa-Pierce, of the University of Rhode Island, has already developed implants that can make fish surface on command in studies that focus on tuna, cobia and salmon.

The research builds on experimental work to control animals by implanting tiny electrodes in their brain, already used by Prof John Chapin’s team at the University of New York to guide rats through rubble. In this case, the implant stimulates a part of the brain wired to a rat’s whiskers. The rats turn towards the “tickled” side to see what has brushed by.

The rats have been trained to pause for 10 seconds when they smell a target chemical, such as plastic explosive. The New York Police Department is considering recruiting the rats to its disaster response team, to look for hidden bombs or people trapped under rubble.

Another Mission for Boomers

More ideas to exploit the underutilized SSBNs from Lockheed Martin:

The Cormorant, a stealthy, jet-powered, autonomous aircraft that could be outfitted with either short-range weapons or surveillance equipment, is designed to launch out of the Trident missile tubes in some of the U.S. Navy's gigantic Cold War--era Ohio-class submarines.

These formerly nuke-toting subs have become less useful in a military climate evolved to favor surgical strikes over nuclear stalemates, but the Cormorant could use their now-vacant tubes to provide another unmanned option for spying on or destroying targets near the coast.

More "Bush-Rage" on the Roads

Looks like my wife's not the only one this has happened to.

A man apparently enraged by a Bush-Cheney sticker (search) on a woman's sport utility vehicle chased her for miles and tried to run her off the road while holding up an anti-Bush sign, police said.

"He told our officers that he just got mad at her, so he went after her," said police spokesman Joe Durkin.
Notice the Lefties always pick out the women. Coward.

Who Killed the A-12?

About 15 years ago the Navy was developing the A-12, an advanced, all-weather replacement for the ageing A-6 Intruder. It was ultimately cancelled due to cost overruns, amid quite a bit of acrimony. Now, we find out just who and what may be the culprits in the untimely death of the A-12:

CRITICS ARGUE that there was never enough money hidden in intelligence and military budgets to fund a small fleet of spaceplanes and carrier aircraft. However, those who worked on [Blackstar's] development at several contractor sites say they charged time-and-materials costs to a number of well-funded programs. Lockheed was the lead contractor for Blackstar orbiters being fabricated at McDonnell Douglas in the early 1990s, and workers there typically logged their time against a specific Lockheed charge number associated with that project. But their time might also have been charged to the National Aero-Space Plane (NASP) and the Navy's A-12 fighter accounts, they say. Both multibillion-dollar programs were canceled with little but technology development gains to show for massive expenditures.

The whole article is an interesting read for those of you with an interest in "black" programs.

New & Improved Sailor

For those of you that have been surfing through for a while, you've probably noticed that I put an addition over there on the right. That's right, I've expanded to three columns, and shuffled the code so things should load faster, too. Enjoy!

Monday, March 13, 2006

Military Seeks to Develop 'Insect Cyborgs'

Something else we can throw taxpayer money away on:

The U.S. military, facing problems in its efforts to train insects or build robots that can mimic their flying abilities, now wants to develop "insect cyborgs" that can go where troops cannot.

The Pentagon is seeking applications from researchers to help them develop technology that can be implanted into living insects to control their movement and transmit video or other sensory data back to their handlers.

Marine Corps Commandant May Retire Early, DoD Seeks Successor

Looks like Gen. Hagee may have stepped on the wrong toes in his criticism of the QDR:
Gen. Michael Hagee, who is challenging Pentagon plans to cut his service’s end strength by 5,000 Marines, may step down as Marine Corps commandant months before his four-year term expires next January.

US Navy Seeks Rapid-Strike Missile System

This idea caught my eye:

The US Navy is seeking funding to convert Trident nuclear submarine missiles to conventionally armed rapid-response weapons.

The plan calls for a missile arsenal that is capable of striking any target within 6000 miles of a patrolling submarine in under 24 minutes, with a guaranteed accuracy of less than 10 yards.

The "Prompt Global Strike" programme claims that even underground bunkers could be destroyed by solid-slug warheads plunging from space at high speed.

A second warhead consisting of flechettes – barbed shrapnel designed to shred vehicles, penetrate fuel tanks and kill anyone not under solid cover – could be developed to tackle surface targets.
At $30.9 million a piece and eight warheads per missile, that's almost $3.9 million per target serviced.

Colombian Navy Takes Sub in Smuggling Bust

This in not the first time this has happened, but the last one wasn't operational yet.

The Colombian navy has seized a 60-foot long submarine that likely was used to haul tons of cocaine out to sea for shipment to the United States, officials say.
Barrera said the submarine carried cocaine to speedboats in the Pacific Ocean for transportation to Central America and on to the United States.

Another UAE Company Provides Security for US Navy

Could this be the next big flail?

While Dubai Ports World bowed out of running six US port facilities to quell an outcry over security concerns, another Dubai-owned company has since January provided services in 12 US ports and to the US Navy.

The British company Inchcape Shipping Services (ISS) was sold in January to a "Dubai government investment vehicle for 285 million dollars," Time magazine said on its website.

ISS has more than 200 offices around the world, including more than a dozen US port cities including Houston, Miami and New Orleans, where it engages in "arranging pilots, tugs, linesmen and stevedores, among other things," said the magazine.

The US Navy in June of last year signed a 50 million dollar contract making ISS its "Husbanding Agent for vessels in most Southwest Asia ports, including those in the Middle East," said Time quoting from an unclassified Navy logistics manual.

Japanese City Rejects U.S. Navy Relocation

Looks like America isn't the only place encroachment is causing issues with military basing policy:

The southern Japanese city of Iwakuni on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected the relocation of a U.S. naval air wing, in a nonbinding vote that has emerged as a symbol of opposition to the proposed realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.
A total of 43,433 residents in the city — which is already the site of a U.S. Marine base — voted against the relocation; just 5,369 voted in favor, final results showed.
Some Iwakuni residents, including the mayor, have opposed relocating the Kitty Hawk because of the risk of accidents and increased noise from nighttime fighter jet training.

"This is an important issue for our city. It is natural that we would want our voice to be heard," Mayor Katsusuke Ihara said Sunday night,

He said the city supports the current base arrangement, but added he opposes any significant increase in the military presence. He said earlier Sunday he would ask the government to scrap the relocation plan if the final vote was against it.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Senators Urge Cost Controls for Ships

First, the Daily Press' introduction:

The Navy's new long-range plan to increase the size of its fleet could quickly prove unaffordable without new controls on ship construction costs, members of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Thursday.

At a hearing with Navy leaders, senators questioned whether the Pentagon will ever find enough money to afford a plan aimed at increasing the fleet from 281 ships to 313. Even if more money is found, some said, it would not go far unless the Navy takes new measures to control construction costs.

"You'll never see a 313-ship Navy if these costs prevail," said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., citing projections of $13 billion aircraft carriers and multibillion-dollar destroyers. "These are staggering numbers. In the past 10 to 15 years, the cost escalation has been astronomical."
I know all you DDX defenders will argue the costs are necessary, but just look at the trend graph from the Wall Street Journal today. Notice the trend?

America is spending the same amount of money now, in equivalent dollars, as we were at the peak of the Korean War and Reagan buildup - when we had almost 600 ships in the fleet. Sure, equipment is getting more expensive and we're not matching those levels as a percentage of GDP, but we're still spending like bandits and fighting for just 313 ships.

The outlook, according to one senator with a big stake in defense spending, is not good:

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., said the proposed budget doesn't support the shipbuilding plan.

"Our fleet is at the smallest size it's been since before World War I," Lieberman said. "We need to spend more at a very dangerous time in our nation's history."

The new shipbuilding plan would increase Navy procurement dramatically, growing from the purchase of seven new ships next year to 14 ships in 2011. But the plan also calls for cuts in the large, costly ships that sustain major shipyards like Newport News.

The nation's fleet of aircraft carriers would drop from 12 to 11, while the number of attack submarines would fall from about 54 to 48. The overall increase in the size of the fleet comes mostly from a decision to buy 55 littoral combat ships - smaller, fast vessels that can patrol the waters close to shore.

Paying the Heaviest Price

Samoans doing the heavy lifting of democracy:

American Samoa – Proudly displayed throughout this lush South Pacific island are the hand-painted signs celebrating soldiers serving in Iraq, and the yellow ribbons of a "warrior nation," which has sent so many of its young men and women to fight for the U.S. military.

"There is a strong military tradition among Samoans looking at the United States really with loyalty, with a sense of duty," explained writer and poet Sia Figel. "When the United States calls upon them, they are quite prepared to answer that call."

In a time of war, this U.S. territory is a military recruiter's dream. Last year, American Samoa and other South Pacific islands supplied more than 400 recruits for the U.S. Army.
But American Samoa has paid a heavy price. With seven Samoans killed in Iraq, it has the highest per capita death rate of any U.S. state or territory.

Among the victims was 22-year-old Tina Time, who was killed in a desert convoy accident. In the Samoan tradition, her crypt lies in front of the parents’ house, bedecked with flowers.
With three other children in the U.S. military, Mary Time still supports American involvement in Iraq — despite her daughter's death.

Blow Things Up & Get Paid

One of the perks of this line of business: USS Lake Erie gets to take a Standard Missile 3 for a test drive.

Okay, I am a little jealous of the "shooters" every now and then.

Navy QB Could Face More Charges

The prosecutor is piling on Mr. Owens:

Navy quarterback Lamar Owens could face additional charges stemming from the investigation of his alleged rape of a fellow academy midshipman in January, a Navy officer reviewing the case said Thursday.

Owens, who is already charged in military court with rape, conduct unbecoming an officer and committing indecent assault, may have also violated an order that he stay away from the alleged victim. He also allegedly had hundreds of pornographic images on his academy computer.

Rape and indecent assault? I would have figured that the assault was a lesser, included offense of the rape.