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.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


Surface Warriors have been known to ground a ship now and then, but nothing like this.

I bet that captain didn't get a band at his change-of-command....

Everything You Wanted to Know About Darfur

...and a few things you didn't. There's a big march (okay, it's only 10-15,000 people) scheduled today to try and bring some attention to what's going on in Darfur. If you don't know what's going on there, here's a snapshot:

Rebels from the Darfur region of western Sudan are dissatisfied with a proposed peace settlement, rebel leaders said Friday, as global pressure built for them to strike a deal with the Sudanese government by a Sunday deadline.

Mediators from the African Union have proposed a draft agreement aimed at ending a three-year-old conflict that has left tens of thousands of people dead and forced 2 million to flee to refugee camps in Darfur and neighboring Chad. The draft addresses security, power-sharing and the division of wealth.
If you want to know more, visit Live from the FDNF. He's been following the situation for a long time and has some great info and commentary.

Death to the Float Drop!

For those of you returning visitors browsing with Firefox or Mozilla, you'll notice that I fixed the float drop problem and the page is (finally) rendering correctly.

I shuffled the code around to speed things up a bit for everyone, too.

Please, hold your applause....

Welcome New Readers!

Welcome aboard the Yankee Sailor, all of you who've clicked through from Protein Wisdom, Stop the ACLU and Real Clear Politics. Take your time, have a look around and come back soon.


Saturday, April 29, 2006

The (Original) Star-Spangled Banner

With all the hubub over a Spanish version of the U.S. national anthem (Technorati logged over 1,400 posts on the subject yeserday), I though I'd repost the lyrics here in their entirety. Please, as you read them, note two things: 1) what language you're reading, and 2) all the rather un-PC language about God, conquest and national survival in the parts that don't make it into common usage.

Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' the night that our flag was still there.
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen thro' the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov'd homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserv'd us as a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
I don't normally get into the public outcry game, but for this I'll make an exception. How about all bloggers that remember what the national anthem really stands for post these lyrics in their entirety over the next week or so?

Go ahead, you can do it.

Trackbacked to OTB and the Jawa Report.

I Just Have to Laugh

Message number three in recent weeks from the Murderous Mohammedan Moonbats:

The U.S. military has only seen "loss, disaster and misfortune" in Iraq, al-Qaida's No. 2 said, in a video message that a U.S. official deemed part of a propaganda campaign to demonstrate the terror network's relevancy.

The video by Ayman al-Zawahri, posted on an Islamic militant Web forum Saturday, came within the same week as an audiotape by Osama bin Laden and a video by the head of al-Qaida's branch in Iraq - a volley of messages by the group's most prominent figures.

Al-Zawahri, an Egyptian militant believed to be hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan, also denounced the leaders of Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq as "traitors" and called on Muslims to rise up to "confront them."

He said that U.S. and British forces in Iraq had bogged down in Iraq and "have achieved nothing but loss, disaster and misfortune."

Al-Qaida in Iraq "alone has carried out 800 martyrdom operations (suicide attacks) in three years, besides the sacrifices of the other mujahedeen, and this is what has broken the back of American in Iraq," al-Zawahri said.
Let's look at the evidence:
  • The Al-Qaida leadership has been in fear of their lives and hiding in holes for the last four years.
  • Al-Qaida has only managed a handful of major attacks since 9/11.
  • Al-Qaida has executed zero operations in the territory of the United States, their main enemy, since 9/11.
  • Al-Qaida recently fired their top commander in Iraq, al-Zarqawi, for mishandling the Iraq campaign.
  • And, Al-Qaida has recently shifted its strategic focus to Sudan and Israel, effectively ceding the battlefield of Iraq to the Coalition,
And it's our back that's been broken? Talk about failure of analysis! I think it's time for all the "retired" terrorist leaders to call for bin Laden's resignation.

On a more serious note, this upswing in messages could mean one of two things. Either bin Laden and his boys know that they're in trouble with the Arab street and are in the midst of a massive PR campaign to shore up support, or they're busily sending messages and another significant attack is nearing execution. Let's hope it's the former and not the latter.

Trackbacked to Stop the ACLU and The Jawa Report.

You Think We've Got "Big Brother" Problems....

Pubs in Britain scanning customers' fingerprints to control access.

Revellers in a British town are to have their fingerprints scanned when they enter pubs and clubs in a scheme aimed at weeding out drunken troublemakers.

The "In Touch" project is the first of its kind in Britain.

Biometric finger-scanning machines have been installed at six venues in Yeovil, southwest England. Clubbers will be asked to have their right index finger scanned and show picture identification to register on the system.

The data is then stored on a computer network which other pubs and clubs in the scheme can access so that information on louts can be passed on quickly.

"It will identify those who have previously been intent on causing trouble," said Sergeant Jackie Gold, of Avon and Somerset Police.
Now that's scary.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Courts-Martial for Retired Officers

Much thought and ink has been expended of late on the subject of retired military officers speaking their minds on political issues and criticizing the Secretary of Defense. As the debate raged on, this Sailor remained silent because we're only talking about a handful of the over 8,000 retired admirals and generals still on the payroll. Six of 8,000 does not exactly make for a serious mutiny, and that's something a good Chief Petty Officer should be able to put down. So, I let the shouting rage around me and pretended to ignore it, until that is, I really started thinking about it.

Yes, as Fred Kaplan so thoroughly explains, retired officers still receiving pay remain subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice and are still subject to the punitive authority of the Secretary of Defense and President. I suppose the rationale for keeping this legal authority in effect after retirement is to prevent high-profile or large groups of retired officers from undermining the authority of the Commander-in-Chief and other high-ranking civilian leaders. It's a civilian control of the military and checks and balances issue, the argument goes. And, that seems to be a completely reasonable goal, to me.

But as retired officers, they aren't subject to the orders of SecDef or the President unless and until they're recalled to active duty, so they're not being disobedient now. In addition, there's no evidence any one of these fine officers ever failed significantly to execute their duties, even when they claim they were in disagreement with the policy. So how, exactly, is civilian control and good order and discipline impacted? Not much, I'd say.

However, if you're one of those who is truly committed to punishing retired officers for calling on Rumsfeld to step aside, then you've got my "go ahead." And I'll even tell you who the first defendent should be: Rep. John Murtha for calling on Sec. Rumsfeld to step down. He is, though retired, still an officer and collecting pay, is he not?

First Littoral Combat Ships Going to San Diego

The first four LCSs are headed for San Diego.

San Diego will be home to the newest members of the Navy's fleet of surface ships, the military announced Thursday. Four Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) -- the first in a series of agile, highly adaptable vessels -- will be docked at Naval Station San Diego beginning early next year.

San Diego was chosen as the initial homeport because of the Navy's increased emphasis on the Pacific theater, as determined by the latest Quadrennial Defense Review.

"Homeporting the first four ships in San Diego will enable us to establish synergy between the ships and with local commands," said Vice Adm. Terry Etnyre, commander, Naval Surface Forces, based in Coronado. "With the Undersea Warfare Command here in San Diego and the Mine Warfare Command moving here soon, the undersea warfare and mine warfare mission packages will have direct coordination and representation locally."
Fortunately, when and if I screen for command, there'll be enough of them in the fleet that moving to San Diego won't be the only opportunity to command one of these.

Standby for Heavy Rolls

President Bush approved the purchase of a British defense firm with U.S. facilities by a Dubai company.

President George W. Bush approved Dubai's $1.24 billion takeover of Doncasters, a British engineering company with U.S. plants that supply the Pentagon, the White House said on Friday.

The decision, announced by White House spokesman Scott McClellan, followed a congressional uproar over security fears that scuttled another Dubai state-owned company's plan to acquire operations at major U.S. ports.

The interagency Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States sent its confidential recommendation on the Dubai takeover of Doncasters to Bush on April 13.

"The president this morning accepted the committee's recommendation," McClellan said. "The committee recommended approval of the transaction after closely scrutinizing it and concluding that it would not compromise our national security."
I expect the reaction will be swift in the blogosphere, and the deal will get methodically picked apart in the near future.

Nuclear Deterrence in the Age of Terrorism

The end of the Cold War brought about an initial euphoria that the threat of nuclear annihilation had dissipated and dramatic changes in the deterrence postures of the major powers could be enacted. Time, though, has shown that prevailing doctrines of nuclear deterrence are essentially unchanged between the major powers. The change that has created a need for further development of nuclear deterrence doctrine in the last fifteen years, however, is the appearance of nations with small nuclear forces (SNF) and non-state actors pursuing nuclear capability.

From the start of the 20th Century to the beginning of WWII, deterrence relied upon conventional arms races and preventive war. The German pre-WWI posture serves as an excellent example. The Germans relied on starting a preventive war against Russia and France to prevent being attacked itself. The Germans could see they were gradually being eclipsed by French and Russian military power and believed war was inevitable, so Germany chose to fight while they were still relatively strong. Similar thinking is documented in Germany and Japan at the start of the Second World War.

Later, following the advent of atomic weapons, theories of nuclear deterrence arose. Of these theories, there were two major schools of thought: 1) deterrence by punishment – retaliation against population centers in the event of an attack, and 2) deterrence by denial – successful first strike against an opponent’s arsenal. The U.S. and Russia pursued both strategies at one time and another. A third theory, existential deterrence, emerged following the Cuban missile crisis and argued it was the fear of nuclear war that made deterrence work and resulted in a “tradition of non-use.” These theories worked well to prevent nuclear conflict and direct confrontation between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., but as McGeorge Bundy pointed out in The Unimpressive Record of Atomic Diplomacy, this nuclear stalemate did little to prevent any of the large number of proxy wars between the two superpowers.

As stated before, it seems little has changed in the postures of the major nuclear powers, despite the end of the Cold War and emerging American nuclear primacy. Surely, the U.S. and Russia have dramatically cut their stockpiles since the end of the Cold War and have removed tactical nuclear weapons from forward bases and deployed ships and submarines, but both nations maintain strategic missile submarines (as do the Chinese, French and British), the U.S. and Russia still maintain large stockpiles, and strategic forces remain on high alert. In addition, the U.S. is also pursuing a long term program for anti-ballistic missile defense. Finally, ongoing unilateral disarmament efforts by the U.S. and Russia have not deterred nations like India, Pakistan, N. Korea and Iran from pursuing nuclear weapons, and China from expanding its strategic forces.

Going forward into the 21st Century, however, a number of changes in the balance of nuclear power have resulted in doubts about the utility of current doctrines of nuclear deterrence. Today there are three major challenges to future nuclear deterrence: 1) the small nuclear forces of new atomic states, 2) anti-state or non-state actors, and 3) return of preventive war as an acceptable deterrence doctrine.

In the case of nations possessing small nuclear forces (SNF), like Pakistan and India, the applicability of traditional theories of deterrence are shaky at best. Deterrence by denial by a SNF is useless against opponents with LNF, and against other SNF powers the applicability depends upon many other factors, like intelligence, delivery and early warning systems. Deterrence by punishment, again, may be effective against other SNF states, but against LNF states it has minimal value. And existential deterrence’s effectiveness depends heavily on the cultural and religious values of the SNF state, and might be impossible to quantify.

The dangers posed by antistate actors in the nuclear balance of power are even more troubling. Deterrence is based on reason, and while states are generally “rational actors”, terrorist organizations (essentially “anti-state” actors) are often “irrational actors.” States have stable political and military systems and organizations, with checks and balances, populations, territory and resources to protect, and have a vested interest in being rational and predictable. Anti-state actors, however, have none of these elements, usually possess radical political or religious ideologies, and often take pride in their unpredictability and willingness to escalate conflicts.

Complicating this is the fact that anti-state actors also work to destabilize the very systems and organizations that make state actors rational. In The Stability of Nuclear Deterrence in South Asia: The Clash Between State and Antistate Actors, Mohan Malik concludes that South Asia is particularly vulnerable to the influence of anti-state actors, as the nations in the region have yet to fully develop the checks and balances in their political systems and mature, redundant controls over their arsenals.

There appears to be some progress with respect to the SNF problems. India has made gains in stabilizing and securing their arsenal to address the dangers of SNF and anti-state actors as an example to other new nuclear powers. First, India has adopted a strict policy of no first use. Second, India asserts that it will not resort to nukes against non-nuclear and non-aligned states. India’s current doctrine is focused on denial by punishment, and they are pursuing a triad of air, land and sea based systems to ensure second strike capability. Third, India has enforced strict civilian control by democratically elected leaders through a survivable command and control system, and their arsenal is protected by adequate security and safety systems to prevent unauthorized use. And fourth, though India will not accept limitations on its maintenance, testing and R&D, its stated goal is to continue to emphasize and pursue global nuclear disarmament.

Where no progress has been made is with regard to the irrational state and anti-state actors. The Bush Administration’s doctrine of preemptive war was intended as a step towards addressing the new security threats, but there are many dangers inherent in this approach. With the invasion of Iraq the Global War on Terror became as much a war of counterproliferation as a war on terrorism.

In the past nonproliferation and counterproliferation entailed diplomacy, sanctions, deterrence, defenses and the capacity to strike at another nation’s nuclear arsenal, command and control and delivery systems. This shift is a tacit acknowledgement that the Non-Proliferation Treaty does not guarantee a nation will not develop or acquire nuclear arms. Deterrence now, at least for the time being, has broadened to include not just deterring a nuclear state from using their weapons, but also includes preventing non-nuclear states and non-state actors from acquiring nuclear weapons. And in the case of Iran, this approach appears to be failing. Indeed, the Bush Doctrine and preoccupation of America’s conventional military on conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan may have actually had the opposite effect and accelerated development efforts by states that were already pursuing nuclear weapons.

All of which begs the question: where do America and nuclear deterrence go from here? The current global security situation has been and will continue to be a challenge to large and small powers alike. Major powers are confronted with threats that their vast arsenals appear useless to deter, and are reverting to risky, offensive doctrines of the past. In response, small powers and anti-state actors are deciding to pursue nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction in attempts to deter a major power they believe is an irrational, uncontrollable threat.

So, with the vexing problem of anti-state actors rendering deterrence by denial and existential deterrence dead letters, deterrence by punishment seems to be the only remaining option for America. This would entail warning the most likely cooperative sources of a terrorist bomb or bomb technology - Iran, Pakistan and North Korea – that if an unexplained nuclear detonation takes place on the territory of the United States, Tehran, Islamabad and Pyongyang would pay a heavy price. Ten years ago this kind of policy would have been unthinkable, but the brave new world of atomic proliferation seems to demand it.

Smash gets it, too.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Italy to Get the "Spanish Treatment?"

Thus far, staunch U.S. ally Italy has managed to avoid or prevent any major terrorist attacks on its soil or forces in Iraq. That may be changing with the upcoming change of government in Italy, however.

A bomb blast rocked an Italian convoy on a road in southern Iraq on Thursday, killing four people — three Italian soldiers and one from Romania, the Defense Ministry said.

An officer with the Carabinieri was seriously wounded and was taken to a U.S. hospital about 93 miles from Kuwait City, Defense Minister Antonio Martino said.

The roadside bomb targeted a four-vehicle convoy carrying 17 troops to relieve those at the local Iraqi police station in the city of Nasiriyah.

Romano Prodi, who will head the next Italian government, said he had no plans to speed up Italy's withdrawal because of the bombing. Prodi had opposed the war and has pledged to bring Italian troops home by the end of the year.

"Our position is not changed," Prodi said at a news conference at his coalition's headquarters. "We've discussed it with the whole coalition."

Prodi's extreme left coalition allies seized on the news to criticize Premier Silvio Berlusconi's decision to send troops to Iraq and to demand a quicker withdrawal.
Could the terrorists, noticing a leftist government on the eve of taking power, be turning up the heat in Italy to get Italians to demand the withdrawl of its troops in Iraq? After all, if it worked on Spain, why wouldn't it work on Italy, too? Don't be surprised if we read more about dead Italians in the coming weeks and months.

Open trackbacked to OTB.

U.S. Defense Budget Put in Perspective

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Schoomaker put America's defense expenditures in perspective yesterday.

AMERICANS spend as much on "plastic Santa Clauses and tinsel" and other Christmas decorations as they do on their military, the United States Army's top general said yesterday.

Lamenting at complaints by some about high defence spending, Gen Peter Schoomaker, the chief of staff, told reporters: "I don't understand. What's the problem?"

Gen Schoomaker said the defence budget the Bush administration requested this year - nearly $440 billion (£246 billion), not including the costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan - was just over 3 per cent of the nation's economy.

"What do you think we spent on plastic Santa Clauses and tinsel and all this stuff for Christmas last year?" he asked reporters. "The answer is $438.5 billion, roughly equivalent to the defence budget.

"We've got a lot to be thankful for in this country and we've got a lot to lose."
Despite nearly $10b per month for the war on terror, Americans' still think their tinsel and lights budget is more important.

Update: A little more perspective, courtesy of Truth and Politics:

U.S. Military Spending as a Percentage of GDP (1940-2003):

U.S. Military Spending as a Percentage of Discretionary Spending (1962-2003):

And He Was Carrying $450k in Cash Because....?

Palestinian Minister visits Kuwait and loses a BIG chunk of change.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar has had $450,000 stolen from his hotel room during his current visit to Kuwait, the Itim news agency quoted the Kuwaiti media as saying Wednesday.

According to the report, al-Zahar had asked the Kuwaiti authorities to keep the theft under wraps, but the incident was confirmed by a security official at the hotel.

The foreign minister, a senior member of Hamas, is on a tour of Arab and Muslim countries to drum up funds after Israel suspended the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority and Western donors cut off aid to the Hamas-led government.
Now, to ask the obvious question, why would he have $450k in cash in his hotel room? And why would he not want knowledge of the theft to become public?

I can think of two possible answers. Either he brought it with him to make untraceable payoffs to unidentified Kuwaitis, or he collected it under the table from people who've publicly said they won't support the Hamas-led PA. Either way, he was up to no good and we've got to watch the PA - and the Kuwaitis - closely.

Which Way Will Europe Go?

The Iranian nuclear threat should become more real to Europeans in the light of recent developments.

Iran has received a first batch of BM-25 surface-to-surface missiles that put European countries within firing range, Israel's military intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin, was quoted as saying in the Haaretz daily on Thursday.

The missiles, purchased from North Korea, have a range of 1,550 miles and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, Haaretz reported.
In the 1980s, when the Soviet Union deployed intermediate range missiles intended solely to pound Western Europe, the Europeans decided to call the Soviets bluff and allow America to deploy similar missiles on European soil. Today, things are a bit different.

Europe now has a large Muslim minority, and one prone to activism and violence. Europe has also been distancing itself from the confrontation with radical Islam. As a result, I believe the most likely response in Western Europe will be the "appease and surrender" option. Hopefully the Eastern Europeans, who remember what totalitarianism is all about, will pull the West away from the cliff.

Open posted in Mudville.

House Committee Votes on Pay & Benefits

A House committee made adjustments to President Bush's proposals on military pay and benefits.

A key House subcommittee yesterday approved a 2.7 percent pay raise for the military next January, slightly higher than the 2.2 percent recommended by President Bush in his fiscal 2007 budget.

The subcommittee also temporarily blocked an administration plan to increase fees in Tricare, the military's health-care program. The plan to raise Tricare fees had drawn spirited protests from military retiree associations and veterans groups.
He said the higher pay raise would help close the gap between military and private-sector salaries -- the eighth consecutive year that military basic pay would increase at a rate higher than the wage growth measured by a Labor Department index.

The bill also would provide money for additional pay raises, effective in April 2007, for warrant officers and mid-grade and senior enlisted personnel that the Pentagon is eager to retain, [House Armed Services subcommittee on military personnel chairman Rep. John M.] McHugh said.
The Military Officers Association of America estimates that military personnel currently get paid 4.4% less than their counterparts in the private sector, down from a 13.5% gap in the late '90s.

America: the Land of "Opportunity" not "Outcomes"

For some reason (okay, I'm no fool, it's a political reason) Americans have been arguing about opportunity in America for several generations. The latest shot fired is a study sponsored by the Center for American Progress trying to debunk the "rags to riches" story in America.

America may still think of itself as the land of opportunity, but the chances of living a rags-to-riches life are a lot lower than elsewhere in the world, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

The likelihood that a child born into a poor family will make it into the top five percent is just one percent, according to "Understanding Mobility in America," a study by economist Tom Hertz from American University.

By contrast, a child born rich had a 22 percent chance of being rich as an adult, he said.

"In other words, the chances of getting rich are about 20 times higher if you are born rich than if you are born in a low-income family," he told an audience at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think-tank sponsoring the work.

He also found the United States had one of the lowest levels of inter-generational mobility in the wealthy world, on a par with Britain but way behind most of Europe.
Never mind that the standard of living in America is one of the highest in the world. No, they must complain. This couldn't possibly be a result of the growing culture of the victim in America, where instead of getting off one's backside, increasing numbers of Americans choose to blame their problems on someone else and beg Congress to enact their economic success. But, that's not how America is supposed to work. As Benjamin Franklin once noted, "all the Constitution guarantees is the pursuit of happiness; you have to catch up with it yourself."

Oh, the CAP's web site says in a synopsis, "Households whose adult members all worked more than 40 hours per week for two years in a row were more upwardly mobile in 1990-91 and 1997-98 than households who worked fewer hours." Hmmm...perhaps they're onto something there.

I Wonder if There's a Metric for This

Mercy and Comfort are off on their humanitarian and goodwill missions:

Under a clear blue sky, the gleaming white ship with huge red crosses on its hull and superstructure sailed Monday on a five-month mission to bring medical care and health education to nations in the western Pacific and Southeast Asia.

The Navy hospital ship Mercy has done disaster relief and war duty, but Monday's departure marks its first deployment since its maiden voyage in 1987 on a mission that is primarily goodwill, officials said.

Capt. Joseph L. Moore, a physician who is the mission's commander, said the goal "is to let people see America in a different light."
I'm sure part of this deployment is about the readiness of the ships and their naval medical personnel, but I wonder if anyone's figured a dollar per unit of goodwill metric to see if this multi-million dollar deployment is worth it. I bet we could contract the Texas based Mercy Ships to do it for quite a bit less.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Upheld Again

A federal judge in Boston became the ninth jurist to uphold the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy since 2002.

US District Judge George A. O'Toole Jr. found that Congress made a rational decision to adopt the policy in 1993 after holding lengthy hearings and concluding that openly homosexual service members would have a negative impact on the military. ... "The legitimacy of the end Congress sought to serve maintaining effective military capability by maintaining high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion cannot be doubted," O'Toole wrote.
Judge O'Toole did voice some doubts about the policy in his 41-page opinion, though. "[D]eciding that Congress has made a rational choice is not the same as deciding it has made a wise choice", he added. I concur, for reasons stated previously.

Monday, April 24, 2006

MilBlog Conference & an Honorable Mention

I guess from all I read that the MilBlog Conference went off without a hitch. I probably would have gone myself, but it was my birthday and was spending it with my best man and our families before the Sailor household takes in all lines and shoves off for Japan in a couple of weeks.

Oh, and John of Argghhh! says the Milblogger's ROE got something of an honorable mention.

Send Me to War or I'll Quit

Britain's Princes William and Harry take the right stand.

PRINCE Harry has threatened to quit the British Army if commanders refuse to send him to the frontline.

The prince and his older brother William have both made it clear they want to see active service with their units.

Earlier this month Harry, 21, was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Household Cavalry's Blues and Royals, the army's oldest and most senior regiment.

The Blues and Royals have been deployed in almost every major operation of the past 25 years, including the Falklands, Bosnia and both Gulf wars.

And now it has been revealed the determined prince told top brass at the Sandhurst military academy: "If I am not allowed to join my unit in a war zone, I will hand in my uniform."

This poses serious problems for advisers tasked with protecting William and Harry, the second and third in line to the throne, and those fighting alongside them.

A Clarence House spokeswoman said: "Harry is very clear that he is joining the Army to serve his country as an operational soldier."

But she added: "There may be circumstances in which his presence could attract attention, which could lead to additional risk to those he commands or himself.

"In these instances it is a judgment call made by his commanding officer."

I'm not sure this is as big a deal as they're making it out to be. Their uncle, Prince Andrew, served in the Falklands War. Just don't send them both to Iraq at the same time, and if one of them does get killed, you can pull the other out of the rotation as the sole surviving heir. Harry, after all, is just a bulkhead spare.

Sand crawler tracked to Jawaland.

Israel Navy Active in Gaza Anti-terrorist Operations

I wish we were doing more of this....

“Defense News” reports that the Israel Navy has become an active partner in the IDF’s urban warfare campaign against Palestinian terrorism originating in densely populated cities in the Gaza Strip. In future, the Navy will carry out targeted eliminations in the way as the Israel Air Force.

“Defense News” says the Navy’s role in the IDF’s ground and air operations in the Gaza Strip will be expanded. Previously, the Navy carried out a supplementary operational role, mostly intelligence gathering and rapid response from the sea. The Navy will fill an integral role in multi-layered combined sensor systems, and naval guns will provide interlinked artillery coverage of the northern Gaza Strip.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Newspeak of the Week in the EU

As Islam and the West debate the limits of free speech in the wake of the Muhammad cartoon controversy, it looks like the French spirit of surrender has seized the helm at the EU. Ministers of the European quasi-government are working on an approved list of terms the organization and its representatives must use when discussing issues related to terrorism and Islam. From the EU Observer:

The EU is working on a public communication lexicon which blacklists the term "Islamic terrorism." The "non-emotive lexicon for discussing radicalisation" should be submitted to EU leaders who will meet in June, according to press reports. EU officials drafting the guidelines hope that the European Commission and the European Parliament will also endorse the linguistic code of conduct, which will be non-binding. "Certainly 'Islamic terrorism' is something we will not use ... we talk about 'terrorists who abusively invoke Islam'," an EU official told Reuters.
Another term said to be on the blacklist: "jihad." Why? Because of it's different meanings in different contexts. "Jihad means something for you and me, it means something else for a Muslim. Jihad is a perfectly positive concept of trying to fight evil within yourself," an EU representative told Reuters. Well, Mr. EU Representative, that may be true when Ahmed says he's in a "jihad" to quit trying to make out the curves of Arab hotties in burkhas, but when Ahmed's Imam tells him something like the following, I think we "Kuffaar" know there's no positive connotation:

[I]f a country doesn't allow the propagation of Islam to its inhabitants in a suitable manner or creates hindrances to this, then the Muslim ruler would be justifying in waging Jihad against this country, so that the message of Islam can reach its inhabitants, thus saving them from the Fire of Jahannum. If the Kuffaar allow us to spread Islam peacefully, then we would not wage Jihad against them.
All of this nonsense comes from a certain form of denial within the EU, and America, too. Mr. EU showed his true problem when he said the following: "Certainly 'Islamic terrorism' is something we will not use ... we talk about 'terrorists who abusively invoke Islam'." Similar sentiments have come from President Bush when he talks about Islam as a "religion of peace" and describes the radicals as "hijackers." The shortcoming of this outlook was eloquently stated by Diana West:

[The] problem is — to stick with the idiotic metaphor — the "hijackers" have been piloting the plane [of Islam] for centuries, and the "passengers" have yet to take the controls. They go along for the ride, happy with or resigned to the anti-infidel destination because the jihadist itinerary comes straight from the Koran and
other signal Islamic texts.
I'll be the first to agree that words can sometimes mean different things to different people, but the solution to the problem is not to outlaw words, but to inform participants of their meanings. By watering down the language, we water down the meaning, and often fail to convey our outrage and the seriousness of the topic.

Diplomacy is fraught with this dissimulation, as excessively polite people struggle to say something without saying what they're actually thinking. And as a result, countries like Iraq and Iran and North Korea are allowed to continue with a fantasy that the promised "serious consequences" of a U.N. Security Council resolution might mean something other than a good, old fashioned trip to the wood shed at the hands of a joint task force.

Let people say what they mean, choose their own words and explain when necessary, Mr. EU. John Maynard Keynes argued the point well when he said, "Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assaults of thoughts on the unthinking." For centuries Muslims have stopped thinking about who's at the controls of their plane, and maybe a few wild words will spur them check the cockpit - before another joint task force must.

Open posted to OTB.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Get Your Head Checked - Online

Now, not only can you find out what Star Wars character you are, and what your pirate name is, you can see if you're bipolar, too!

Servicemembers from all components and their families can obtain a mental health self-assessment or screening through a Web site co-sponsored by DoD and Screening for Mental Health Inc., a nonprofit organization, said Air Force Col. Joyce Adkins, a psychologist with the Force Health Protection and Readiness directorate at the Defense Department's Health Affairs office.

"The (online) screening actually gets you to where you need to be in terms of counseling," Adkins said. "Once you do one of the screening checklists, it will give you the benefits that are available to you."

The Web site, brought online in January, augments other DoD mental health assistance resources, Adkins said. People logged onto the site are asked to answer a series of questions. The program "grades" the completed survey, Adkins said, and gives people an evaluation of their present mental health and provides assistance resources, if deemed necessary.

Other DoD-endorsed health sites tell customers how to access mental health counseling services, but do not provide an online mental health screening program, Adkins said.
Don't be the last in your neighborhood to self-diagnose. Try it out now!

And, oh by the way, I'm "Captain Roger Kidd", and I am bipolar - but you probably already knew that.

We Can't Even Build Small Things

The Advanced SEAL Delivery System is dead after, you guessed it, cost overruns:

A 12-year Navy program to develop six minisubs for commando missions has been canceled after a $446 million investment, leaving the one and only sub at Pearl Harbor with an uncertain future.

With an original estimate that a single sub would cost about $80 million, the price tag for the one vessel that was delivered is $366 million above projections.
But after years of battery, noise and propulsion problems, the Pentagon canceled the Northrop Grumman project on April 6 because of performance and reliability concerns, the Navy said.
The numbers are a little skewed in the report, because they credit the whole $446 million to one hull and there's a lot of overhead packed in there. But if Big Navy went ahead and built five more, it's not unreasonable to think the unit cost would be almost, if not more than, double the original $80 million per boat sticker price.

Make it Stop!

I was hoping to make progress on a more substantive post today, but another "if only" reared its ugly head from Cindy Sheehan.

The latest abomination in their scrutiny of my life is the fact that Casey has no "tombstone." As if it were anybody's business but Casey's family. I am sure every last person who has a problem with this has buried a child and they know what we are going through.

I am being smeared because I have a new car and I have "blown" through "$250,000.00" dollars of Casey's insurance money. I am sure that they have ready access to my bank accounts, too. I know I am writing this to compassionate people who would rather focus on an administration who lies, tortures, kills innocent people using conventional and chemical weapons, spies on its citizens without due process, and is treacherous in outing a CIA operative for petty high school-like revenge, thereby endangering her, her family, and her fellow CIA agents. If it weren't for these criminals, my son wouldn't need a tombstone. [emphasis added]
Everybody deals with death differently, and if you read farther, one of Cindy's main tools is denial. Now, some of the attacks on her have been, well, tasteless. It's her son that's dead, and if she doesn't want a marker and you don't like it, get over it. My discomfort with her stems from her endless tales of woe.

We know that you're sad and hurt, Cindy, but at some point you have to get over it, too.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Disperse You Rebels; Damn You!

On this day in 1775, 75 Lexington militiamen faced a composite force of 900 British "regulars" and fired what has come to be known as the "shot heard 'round the world."

Following the first shots, messengers called for neighboring militias to come out, and within hours over 4,000 minutemen responded from as far away as Salem and Marblehead and inflicted heavy casualties on the "lobsterbacks" as they retreated towards Boston.

At the end of the "Battle Road", the regulars sustained 273 casualties (73 killed; 174 wounded; 26 missing), the various militias suffered 93 casualties (49 killed; 39 wounded; 5 missing), and the British commander, Thomas Gage, awoke to find Boston beseiged by a volunteer army that would in a few days number over 8,000.

Open posted in Mudville and Argghh!

CIA Mines 'Rich' Content from Blogs

A story in the Washington Times today should not be news to us, but it will no doubt raise some eyebrows:

President Bush and U.S. policy-makers are receiving more intelligence from open sources such as Internet blogs and foreign newspapers than they previously did, senior intelligence officials said.

The new Open Source Center (OSC) at CIA headquarters recently stepped up data collection and analysis based on bloggers worldwide and is developing new methods to gauge the reliability of the content, said OSC Director Douglas J. Naquin.

"A lot of blogs now have become very big on the Internet, and we're getting a lot of rich information on blogs that are telling us a lot about social perspectives and everything from what the general feeling is to ... people putting information on there that doesn't exist anywhere else," Mr. Naquin told The Washington Times.

Eliot A. Jardines, assistant deputy director of national intelligence for open source, said the amount of unclassified intelligence reaching Mr. Bush and senior policy-makers has increased as a result of the center's creation in November.
"I can't get into detail of what, but I'll just say the amount of open source reporting that goes into the president's daily brief has gone up rather significantly," Mr. Jardines said. "There has been a real interest at the highest levels of our government, and we've been able to consistently deliver products that are on par with the rest of the intelligence community."

Mr. Naquin said recent OSC successes have included the discovery of a technology advance in a foreign country. Also, most data on avian flu outbreaks come from open sources, he said.
A Defense Department official said Chinese military bloggers have become a valuable source of intelligence on Beijing's secret military buildup. For example, China built its first Yuan-class attack submarine at an underground factory that was unknown to U.S. intelligence until a photo of the submarine appeared on the Internet in 2004.
All milbloggers should review the rules and report when complete.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Power in a Name

Michael Kinsley has a rant in today's WP that proves you don't have to have a point or make sense to get published, you just need to have a name lots of people recognize. Sure, he makes an accurate outline of some of the history of the U.S. relationship with Iran and Iraq, but he seems to have forgotten to include a conclusion.

Read it if you must, but don't hurt yourself trying to make sense of it.

Why is this News?

I hope the hapless soul at AP that titled this story isn't a Christian:

Pope Calls Judas Double-Crosser in Homily

There is a radio host in Boston, Howie Carr, who used to do a "predictable headlines" segment on his show every once in a while. You know, headlines like Ted Kennedy in Car Accident and Red Sox's Season Ends in Disappointment.

Okay, it's been a while since I've heard the program....

A Bitch Slap for the Chickenhawk Crowd

An analysis of the socio-economic distribution of military recruits from 2000-2004 has some telling numbers and trends. During the five years analyzed by the DoD, the number of recruits from the middle and upper class has been steadily trending upward, both as a percentage of total recruits and as a percentage of the population.

In fact, since 2004 the upper middle, upscale and wealthy have been overrepresented as a percentage of population. That's right, the well-to-do aren't just pulling their weight, they're carrying the poor folks' load, too.

I can't wait for the spin from these people.

Update: A reader, who I presume is on the opposite side of this argument, comments:

Your math looks pretty creative. 25% of recruits are wealthy. How are they "carrying the poor folks' load" when lower-mid - poor are carrying the majority (75%) of the recruiting load--by your diagram.

Now I see why we can't win on this and other socio-economic issues. The other side believes 75% of the population is "poor."

Open posted in Mudville and Argghhh!

Good On You, Sailor!

From the Navy News Service:

A deployed Sailor aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA 1) donated in February the dream home he was building to a family left homeless by Hurricane Katrina.

Information Systems Technician 1st Class Lamarr Hawkins, having built a home to rent as an investment, instead decided to give the home to Bernice Stepter and her daughter Dianne, who is deaf and blind.

“It was the right thing to do,” said Hawkins. “If I wanted to be of some help, this is what I could do."
“It was a bad situation, and I felt like it was my duty to do something. Even though it was a tragedy, I am thankful I had the opportunity to help,” said Hawkins.
As if being deployed overseas during wartime wasn't doing enough. Oh, and it's one more piece of evidence that gator sailors are the best people in the Navy.

Open posted in Mudville and Argghhh!

Another Custom in Davy Jones' Locker

I started my association with the Navy in 1986 as a Midshipman and have been in both the active duty and reserve side ever since. A few years ago I was promoted to Lieutenant Commander, and a number of things changed. Everyone was a little more respectful, which one would expect, because for most Sailors on ships, the only LCDR they know is the XO. (And in sea lore, XOs prowl the ship at night and swoop out of the darkness to eat young Sailors alive.) The one thing I didn't expect, though, was to have everyone calling me "commander."

I can tell by that blank look on your face that you're confused, so let me explain. In the Navy, the officer ranks are broken up into three groups: junior, senior, and flag officers. Flag officers are those that are entitled to their own flag, the admirals. Senior officers are the ones that traditionally commanded ships-of-the-line, commanders and captains. And all the officers from Lieutenant Commander down to Midshipman are junior officers. And yes, Midshipmen are officers, though they have no rank, inherent authority or seniority.

All the admirals are addressed as "admiral", captains as "captain" and commanders as "commander", which makes sense. But for the first half of my career or so, and for the previous two centuries of the Navy's existence, junior officers, regardless of rank, were addressed as "mister." You see, lubbers often get confused by their experience with the Army, Air Force and Marines into believing that a Lt. Commander is a Commander's assistant, in the manner of Lt. Colonels.

Alas, it is not so. Lt. Commander as a rank came into existence as Lieutenant Commandant, or a lieutenant that had command. Thus, a Lt. Commander is still a junior officer, and a group of them might more properly be described as Lieutenants Commander. I even have a copy of one of those professional books from the mid-eighties that cautions Sailors against addressing any LCDR as "commander" - except the XO, who is also second-in-command.

Oh well. Just one more thing I'll have to adjust to.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Corps' Shadow Army Goes on the Offensive

Marine retirees and veterans are beginning a push to rename the Department of the Navy.

...Although the Marine Corps has been a separate service since the National Security Act of 1947, it does not get equal billing with the Navy, Air Force and Army, each of which has a department within the Pentagon named after it.

This month, a few Marine Corps veterans and advocates began an online petition effort to persuade Congress to rename the Department of the Navy. Since the Corps functions within the department but has its own military command structure (the commandant of the Corps is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), its bureaucratic home would become the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps.
These Marines better be careful. The more joint we become, the more the Marines distance themselves from their special mission of supporting naval operations, and the more the Army restructures to be able to react as quickly as the Corps does, the more likely someone will really start asking why America needs two armies.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Misplaced Priorities of the Political Class

I've noticed lots of lingering attempts to fan the political fires over the President's decision back in 2003 to release intelligence information on Iraq's pursuit of uranium from Niger. Kos is up in arms and spinning as fast as he can. AMERICAblog is busily cultivating the grass with hopes of raising political hay by arguing it was another attempt by the Administration to deceive America. And, the Washington Monthly is asking the eternal Watergate question, "what did [the President] know and when did he know it?" I even threw in my $0.02 worth and expressed some concerns when the story came to light.

So, while the veracity of the yellow cake reports are still being debated and the speculation is flying about the President's motives for the release, one thing is not being contested: the reports are old and concern events that occurred in the past. In addition, there's no indication that any genuinely sensitive sources or methods were compromised by the leak. In more plain language, it's only a big deal in certain partisan minds.

Yet, in all the commotion, no one seems to notice that the recent report of military planning for potential nuclear strikes on Iranian WMD facilities involves a genuinely illegal leak of information classified with a capital "C." Not information on something that might have happened in the past, but information disclosing what should be highly classified details of potential future military operations. Now there's something to get outraged about.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Tac Nukes for Iran

What's all this talk about nuking Iran?

Partisan knee-jerk panic over dry-erase marker board brainstorming fodder.

'Nuff said.

More Details on Navy's Riverine Force

The structure, manning and equipping of the Navy's new Riverine Squadrons is progressing rapidly, with hopes of deploying the force within a year.

At this time next year, about 200 sailors will fill up small boats, man .50-caliber machine guns and watch for trouble along the waterways of Baghdad
They still are recruiting men and writing a fresh chapter on how to prepare for river fighting.
“We’ve got sailors lining up at the door,” Capt. Michael L. Jordan, commodore of the riverine force, said during an interview at his half-finished headquarters. “The problem is, we’ve got no experience to draw from.”

The Navy has not seen this type of action since the Vietnam War, so it is calling river veterans, the Marine Corps and the special warfare community for advice. The chosen sailors will undergo eight months of training, including combat first aid and grunt infantry at Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The riverine group will consist of three squadrons and roughly 900 sailors, including the 200 initially deployed, and support staff. Each unit will have 16 boats, most likely 30- to 40-foot crafts capable of cruising as fast as 40 knots. The craft will be similar to those used by Marines and special forces.
The whole article is worth reading for those interested.

Army: Retention Good, Recruiting TBD

Good news on Army retention, at least on the enlisted side.

The Army was 15% ahead of its re-enlistment goal of 34,668 for the first six months of fiscal year 2006, which ended March 31. More than 39,900 soldiers had re-enlisted, according to figures scheduled to be released today by the Army.

Strong retention has helped the Army offset recruiting that has failed to meet its targets as the war in Iraq has made it harder to attract new soldiers. The Army fell 8% short of its goal of recruiting 80,000 soldiers in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, although it is exceeding its goal this year. Army recruiting figures for the first half of the year are to be released today.

The Army has met or exceeded its goals for retention for the past five years, records show. It was 8% over its goal for 2005, and 7% ahead of its targets for 2004. The number of re-enlistments has exceeded the Army's goal by a larger margin each year since 2001.
All branches of the military are meeting retention goals so far this year. Recruiting figures are due out today, and there's likely to be some disappointing numbers in there with regard to the quality of recruits. There are also some troubling signs that the Army is still having difficulty keeping its officers.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Yankee Sailor's Creed

Digging back in my draft locker during a recent slow news day, I came across a link to this post on the Sailor's Creed controversy from Lex. I am not all that fond of the official Sailor's Creed handed down from on high, for a couple of reasons. First, here's the official version:

I am a United States Sailor.

I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me.

I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world.

I proudly serve my country's Navy combat team with honor, courage and commitment.

I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all.
Issue one is semantics. I don't think of myself as serving "my country's Navy combat team", I serve the country, and am part of the combat team. When I take a look at the left pocket of my uniform, there's still a "U.S." embroidered before "Navy." Country first, Navy second, as it should be. Next, as for that part about being committed to the fair treatment of all, I certainly am, but I'm not inspired to recite it. And finally, in general, the whole thing smacks of something that was generated by bureaucrats for an organizational purpose. Ick.

The Marine's Creed, for those of you that don't know, came about from the groud up rather than being handed down from on high. It was a "this is what we believe" consensus, rather than a "this is what you shall believe" edict. And to this Sailor, what I choose to believe resonates more than what I'm told to believe.

So, you're asking, "what do you believe, Sailor?" I like what a young Lieutenant forward deployed aboard a warship in the days following September 11th wrote on SWONET (with a mod or two):

I am an American Sailor, and a Warrior First. I Fight under the Red, White and Blue of my Fathers and descend from John Paul Jones and Oliver Hazard Perry. In my ears rings "I have not yet begun to fight" and "don't give up the ship", and in my veins flows Fire and Gunpowder. I will master my profession and demand that my fellow Sailors master theirs. I will follow when lead, and Lead when able. I will place nothing above the welfare of my fellow Sailors, save my Mission, and no matter what my ship, squadron, station or watch, I will help deliver Defeat to the Enemy. In this I will not fail. With Honor in my Head, Courage in my Heart, and Commitment in my Hands, I will be a Warrior first, until Victory is in hand and Liberty is secure.
This I believe.

Open posted in Mudville.

The Return of the Military Meme

It's been a while since I've done one of these, but I got a good response from both bloggers and readers last time, so I'll fire another down range.

The job I asked for the last time I talked to a detailer: Ship's Navigator.

The job I got the last time I talked to a detailer: Ship's Navigator. I've been lucky with this. Every job I've wanted in the Navy, I've gotten (sometimes for better or for worse). Maybe it's because I've been realistic in writing my dream sheets, or maybe I've been just plain lucky.

Job I liked the most: Tough call between navigator and first lieutenant. Being a navigator, you get to spend a lot of time on the bridge, driving and teaching JOs how to drive. Plus, you get an office with windows -- lots of them. However, as first lieutenant I got to work with probably the best people in my career, and got to play with boats, too.

Job I hated the most: Main Machinery Room Officer. It wasn't really the job that I hated, it was a certain individual for whom I worked that poisoned the well. At one point he threw a big, three ring binder at me (this wouldn't go over well today, but in those days it was tolerated). My immediate superior told me to take that as a good sign, though. The last guy in the job had to dodge a chair.

Three jobs I really would like (or would have liked) to have:

1) Captain of a warship. I know it seems like a no-brainer, but surprisingly enough most junior officers don't aspire to the job. As for me, however, God willing some day you can call me "Captain."

2) Naval Attache. Get to see how other sailors do things, go to lots of parties and drink on the company dime. Oh, and collect a paycheck, to boot.

3) Special Boat Unit Craft OIC. Fast boats in brown water - very cool. If I can't get the Captain job, I wouldn't at all be disappointed with command of one of the new riverine squadrons.

So, that's that. Now for the fingering of who gets to carry this torch. How 'bout Chap, Lex and Starboard!!!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Another Voice on MilBlogging Rules

The Officers' Club has a good read on something I've been talking about for quite a while: the need for self-regulation among milbloggers.

I think that deep down, every milblogger wonders if they're doing right or wrong by blogging. Charlie and I get the occasional email from mid to senior ranking officers who warn us to "watch it" with our writings, but we'll also get the occasional email from mid to senior ranking officers who praise us to high heaven for helping portray the military in such a positive light.

I suspect that -by and large- the brass realizes that the impact and influence of milbloggers is positive, proactive, and growing. Fast.

Today's generals were Vietnam's lieutenants and captains, men who realize that Vietnam was lost in Congress, not on the battlefield. The vibe that I'm getting from the Pentagon is the same as Mike Lawhorn queired "what can blogs accomplish?"

But, as Mike said, we need a responsible discourse. Call me pessimisstic, but I've got an itching feeling that the question of whether or not a milblog will leak classified material, or violate OPSEC, or provide our enemies information useful against our troops is a matter of "when" not "if."
Read the whole thing and report when complete.

Presidential Motives Are Key in Declassification Inquiry

There's a lot of buzz in the blogosphere about the revelation that the President authorized the release of classified information to the press, complete with a lot of embedded allegations. The simple truth, however, is that yes, Virginia, the President is the final arbiter on what gets classified and declassified.

But there's a caveat, and an important one.

Having worked at the muzzle end of the national security establishment for the last nineteen years, I've been taught that information is classified when its release would cause harm to national security. And, generally, information is not declassified until that threat has passed, though sometimes things remain classified because the information is merely lost in the system. Surely there are an abundance of documents from the 1940s-1960s that remain classified because no one ever got around to reviewing them for declassification.

Occaisionally, information gets released, either publicly or through approved "leaks", because the President decides the benefit to national interest outweighs the damage to national security. The Administration is clearly taking that approach here.

"There is a difference between providing declassified information to the public when it's in the public interest and leaking classified information that involved sensitive national intelligence regarding our security," [White House Spokesman] Scott McClellan said.
There is an important question that needs to be answered, though. Did the President choose to release the information believing it would benefit the national interest, or did he choose to release it believing it would benefit his poll numbers? The argument that the war in Iraq needed to be justified holds no water, in my opinion. When the information was leaked, Baghdad was already ours.

The string should be pulled to get to the bottom of the decision to declassify. And, if it's clear the President chose to release the information to save his reelection bid or job approval numbers, he deserves to get his rear end handed to him. In spades.


A. Upon reflection, there's another question that needs to be answered, too: was there any actual harm to national security by the release? To my knowledge, there were no sources or methods divulged, so it's tough to argue there was harm. And until someone can demonstrate that national security was damaged, this story is just political hay for partisan jackasses.

B. An unnamed attorney presses the "plausible deniability button:"

President Bush declassified sensitive intelligence in 2003 and authorized its public disclosure to rebut Iraq war critics, but he did not specifically direct that Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, be the one to disseminate the information, an attorney knowledgeable about the case said Saturday.

Bush merely instructed Cheney to "get it out" and left the details to him, said the lawyer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case for the White House. The vice president chose Libby and communicated the president's wishes to his then-top aide, the lawyer said.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Dems Put Uniformed Candidates Up Front

I was surfing through the Democrats' official website for information on their plan to emphasize military issues, and I came across the page for the "Fighting Democrats." Lo and behold, there's a fairly prominent picture of Pensylvania Democrat Candidate Patrick Murphy -- in uniform.

In Murphy's defense, he stuck the picture back in the gallery of his site, so it's someone at the DNC that chose to use the uniform as a campaign tool.

As an aside, I was ready to vote for John Courage, until I found it was a "he" and not one of these.

Russia Considers Military Chaplains

Russia is considering creating a chaplains corps to address discipline problems:

The chaplains bill, drafted by the Chief Military Prosecutor's Office, has reportedly been sent to the Defense Ministry and is expected to be forwarded to parliament soon. Prosecutors hope chaplains will "improve morale and streamline personnel building," a transparent euphemism for combat dedovshchina.

If the bill becomes law, chaplains will serve on the same terms as professional servicemen. This will add little to the financial burden, advocates of the bill argue. They say the 2,000 priests who already preach in military units without any pay whatsoever do a great deal to reduce barracks violence - at least, compared to units that do not have priests at all. Critics question the latter claim, although the issue on whether the move will yield results is minor compared to whether it will be appropriate to let clerics in at all.

Religious leaders as well as military experts are even more strongly divided on the issue. Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II recently said priests should care more about spiritual matters than discipline and warned against expecting chaplains to do what in other armies is done by military police. Shafig Pshikhachev, spokesman for the North Caucasus Muslim Coordination Center, said at a recent round table on cooperation between the military and religious organizations that the armed forces could use priests, but priests should not be part of the common chain of command. He said their proposed inclusion in the official ranks would be a broad violation of the Constitution, which stipulates the separation of church and state.

But clerics' concerns are playing into the hands of Chief of Staff Yury Baluevsky, who has made it clear that personnel are free to worship whatever they want, but only after hours and without any official religious representation. He said future chaplains' status should be determined first. If they are not to be in the military, he said, they will, according to military regulations, not be responsible for their actions.
Hopefully they won't run into the same problems America has with chaplains.

French Not Hot on European Union Domain Name

Over a half million Europeans rushed to register domains in the first twelve hours of the new .eu domain space, but the French seem less than enthused:

The initial registrations Friday mostly came from Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Belgium, [EU Commissioner Viviane] Reding said. Previously, special groups registered 320,000 names since that became available in December.
Could it be that they don't like that EU is also the initials for the United States in French (Etats-Unis)?

And the Check's in the Mail, Too!

Who do these guys think they're kidding?

A new-design aircraft carrier, priced as high as $13 billion in some estimates circulating on Capitol Hill, actually will cost less than additional "Nimitz-class" flattops like those now in service, key members of the new ship's construction team asserted Thursday.

In a briefing for reporters, Navy officials and executives of Northrop Grumman Newport News shipyard put the actual construction cost of the first carrier in the new series, now called CVN-21, at $7.3 billion. That's about $200 million less than an additional Nimitz-class carrier.
Can anyone tell me the last time a ship was developed and built on budget, much less under budget?

Blind Squirrel Finds Nut!

From the London Telegraph:

United Nations officials investigating Iran's nuclear programme say they have found convincing evidence that the Iranians are working on a secret uranium enrichment project that has not been officially declared.
"There are a number of glaring inconsistencies between what the Iranians are telling us and the information the IAEA got from Khan," said a diplomat closely involved in the IAEA's negotiations with Teheran. "Consequently the IAEA inspectors are now convinced that the Iranians have another, small-scale uranium processing and enrichment project that is being kept secret from the outside world."

IAEA officials are trying to establish whether Iran has what they call "parallel" nuclear enrichment facilities, which they suspect are being developing at closed military bases around the country.
Maybe all hope is not lost on the value and effectiveness of the IAEA.

Troubling News for Army Recruiting

News today from the Phildelphia Inquirer that may indicate October's recruiting difficulties weren't just an anomaly

[Army Secretary Francis] Harvey told the Senate Armed Services Committee in February that the Army in the first four months of fiscal 2006 used up two-thirds of its annual limit of recruits from its pool of those least-qualified - and that limit was doubled last year.
The Army's recruiting goal for fiscal 2006 is 80,000, the same as last year, when it missed its target by almost 7,000 - its first enlistment shortfall since 1999. The numbers so far in this fiscal year are encouraging: The Army has exceeded its goal every month.
So, long and short, the Army's filled their quotas well for the first half of the fiscal year, but the quality of recruits has continued in an ominous down trend.

Continuing to track and report....

Skippy!!! She Posted a Picture!

Either the Kinky Woman reads the Yankee Sailor, or she's got some sort of strange, mental connection with Skippy because she posted a picture.

While it's certainly fertile food for the imagination, somehow I don't think it's actually representative of her, though.

The Perils of Ambition

Looks like "Mr. Campaign Finance Reform", Captain John S. McCain, USN (Ret) might be wavering in his principles as 2008 approaches:

House Republican leaders have struck a deal with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) to eliminate restrictions on coordination between national parties and federal candidates, a change in the law that would be of great benefit to the winner of the 2008 GOP presidential primary, according to congressional sources.

Republican and Democratic campaign-finance experts alike believe the change would be a boon to McCain’s campaign, if he wins his party’s nomination in three years, an outcome that political handicappers are beginning to view as a real possibility.

The House voted yesterday to attach legislation eliminating the coordination restriction to a bill limiting the activities of the soft-money groups known as 527s. The groups are named after a section of the tax code and are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities. The resulting campaign-finance package narrowly passed the House yesterday evening.
The Good Book says that money is the root of all kinds of evil, but I think a close contender is ambition. Disappointing.

A Photo, Just in Time

Just when I was feeling down about the paucity of interesting news, I ran across this photo that took me back to my happy place:

Thursday, April 06, 2006

If He's Guilty, Put Him in Jail

Hopefully the powerful guy/little guy disparity in the justice system won't rear its ugly head in this case:

A leading spokesman for the Homeland Security Department was put on unpaid leave Wednesday after being charged with preying on a child though online sexual conversations with an undercover detective who was posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Homeland Security officials said Brian J. Doyle, the fourth-ranking spokesman at the department, was put on “non-pay status” following the charges late Tuesday. Doyle, 55, was expected to appear in court Wednesday afternoon in suburban Maryland, where he lives.
If he's found guilty, he should go to jail -- for a long, long time.

Trackbacked to Wizbang!

McKinney Apologizes

It seems a certain Congresswoman from Georgia can read the handwriting on the wall:

Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., expressed "sincere regret" Thursday for her altercation with a Capitol police officer, and offered an apology to the House.

"There should not have been any physical contact in this incident," McKinney said in brief remarks on the House floor. "I am sorry that this misunderstanding happened at all and I regret its escalation and I apologize."
Either that or these people got to her.

Minutemen by Any Other Name

The Minutemen return to the U.S.-Mexico border:

To some, they are grass-roots citizen activists who are helping bring much-needed attention to the problem of border security. To others, they are vigilantes who fan the flames of xenophobia and intolerance.

Either way, the Minuteman Project is back and ready to send 1,200 of its Civil Defense Corps volunteers into the Arizona desert for a month-long border vigilance campaign beginning today.

“We’re going to get out there and do the same thing we’ve always done: observe, spot and report,” said Al Garza, the national executive director of the Minutemen and a resident of Huachuca City. “And we’re not going to let up, no matter what anybody says.”
And the usual suspects aren't happy:

Cecile Lumer, a pro-migrant activist from the local Citizens for Border Solutions group, joined in an ACLU-sponsored effort last year to monitor the Minutemen in Cochise County for civil rights abuses. She said she would be doing the same this year.

“We’re not hiding or anything — we go out there and watch them and they know we’re there,” she said. “Basically, it’s to see that they don’t harm anybody.”
You know, if these guys were driving around your neighborhood to keep an eye on things and call the police if there was something suspicious, you wouldn't call them "minutemen", they'd be a "neighborhood watch."

Breach at Water Tank Shows Vulnerabilities

This story got a lot of attention here at SWO Mecca, but didn't break into the national news:

Jim Sawyer already had brushed his teeth, taken a shower and had a cup of coffee by the time he learned that the water flowing into his Blackstone home might have been contaminated.

Authorities allege that three teenagers had broken into the water storage facility, about 55 miles southwest of Boston, after cutting barbed wire and slicing the lines to an alarm.

"I didn't think it was that easy to get at our water supply," said Sawyer, 21.

Authorities ruled out terrorism, but the breach in the town of 9,000 highlighted the vulnerabilities of municipal water supplies and showcased the fears of terrorism in towns big and small.
Those of you visiting from Smalltown, USA, might want to ask some hard questions of your local governments in the near future.

What Does This Say About the Drug War?

Here's the report:

The Navy guided missile cruiser USS Gettysburg returned from a six-month patrol off the coasts of Central and South America carrying a record quantity of confiscated cocaine.

The Gettysburg, working with the FBI, Coast Guard and other governments, confiscated 61,000 pounds of cocaine, worth almost $2 billion. The previous record for a Navy ship was 42,000 pounds from seven vessels, officials said.
Does this mean we're getting better at catching the smugglers, or just that shipment by sea is becoming more popular?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Can You Say "Publicity Stunt?"

This guy must be desparate for press interest in his project:

Reports indicate that Indian director T. Rajeevnath will be recruiting Paris Hilton to play the starring role in a Mother Theresa biopic.
Either that or it's the only way he could get an autograph.

Update on McCampbell Collision

Update on a previous post considering USS McCampbell's recent collision. Scuttlebutt is that she was struck by the merchant's bow on her starboard side, below (underway replenishment) station 3 and her green running light.

Still no official press release on the situation, though. When McFaul and Churchill collided last summer, there were lots of details released pretty quickly, so this mishap still has a peculiar smell to this Sailor's nose.

Retired Navy Captain Seeks Cubin's Seat

Another retired squid seeking a seat in Congress:

A retired U.S. Navy captain says he plans to run against U.S. Rep. Barbara Cubin, R-Wyo., in this fall's Republican primary.

Bill Winney, who would be Cubin's first primary opponent, made his intentions known at the Sublette County GOP Convention on Monday, but said he won't formally announce his candidacy for a couple of weeks.
Winney was commanding officer of the USS Benjamin Franklin, a nuclear submarine, from November 1988 to November 1991. He was commanding officer of the USS Holland, a surface ship designed to do submarine repair work, from July 1994 to August 1996. He retired from the Navy in 2002.

Pirates Hijack South Korean Ship

USS Roosevelts and HNLMS Zeven Provincien thwarted by pirates:

Pirates captured a South Korean-flagged fishing vessel off the coast of Somalia on Tuesday and efforts by a U.S. Navy ship and a Dutch vessel to intervene were abandoned when members of the South Korean crew were threatened with guns and the ship slipped into Somali territorial waters, the Navy said.
We need something smaller and faster out there to really deal with this, but all the PCs are stuck at home doing homeland security boardings.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Losing Patience with McKinney

Looks like a certain Congresswoman alleging a "back of the bus" problem might instead get pushed off the bus.

The bizarre scuffle Wednesday between Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) and an unnamed U.S. Capitol Police officer is winning the spirited congresswoman few new friends in her caucus. In fact, some Democrats are trying to distance themselves from her.
All of the attention has some Democrats concerned that McKinney is drawing the limelight away from their policy goals and Republicans' ethical missteps to focus on a momentary, disputed encounter in a Capitol Hill hallway.

"There's been a lot of eye-rolling," said an aide to a moderate Democrat who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The national attention it's been getting has been unfortunate. It's becoming a distraction."

A Democratic strategist concurred.

"This isn't the view of Democrats that we want to project in the tough races, one of victims and race-baiting," the strategist said.
And the Capitol Police upped the ante this morning and requested an arrest warrant. As if we didn't already have enough of the trivial and inane to distract us.

Watchdog Warns About Gov't Squabbling

Looks like the children over in DHS need to learn to "play nice."

Squabbling between the Coast Guard and the FBI could lead to confused and potentially disastrous responses to terrorism incidents at sea, a government investigator said Monday.

Disagreements over the roles the two agencies should take in responding to a maritime terrorism threat or attack come as intelligence analysts continue to believe that al-Qaida and other terror groups are likely to launch attacks on ports, warships, cruise ships or ferries, said Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine.

The bickering came to a head in last year's weeklong anti-terrorism drill, TOPOFF 3, in which the Coast Guard said the FBI repeatedly blocked Coast Guard plans to try out a new team in a mock assault on a ferry off the coast of Connecticut, Fine said in a partially blacked-out, 103-page report.

The FBI wanted to limit the assault to its elite Hostage Rescue Team. The Coast Guard ultimately changed the scenario to circumvent the FBI's role as the lead agency, Fine said.

Zarqawi Replaced as al Qaeda Chief

Looks like one of the chief 3Ms has been a little too zealous:

Jordanian-born al Qaeda militant Abu Musab Zarqawi has been replaced as head of the terrorist organization in Iraq in a bid to put an Iraqi figure at the head of the group's struggle, said a leading Islamist.

But terrorism specialists were divided on whether the move represented a demotion for the figure most closely identified with a wave of suicide bombings and beheadings or a move by Zarqawi to focus his efforts on a larger regional war.

Huthayafa Azzam, whose father is seen as a political mentor of al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, told reporters in Jordan over the weekend that Zarqawi, who has not made a public statement in months, was no longer the head of al Qaeda in Iraq and that his role "has been limited to military action."

Azzam, who claims close contacts with leading insurgents inside Iraq, said Zarqawi had "made many political mistakes," including kidnappings and beheadings that sparked popular revulsion and unauthorized operations outside Iraq, such as the November bombing of a Jordanian hotel.
Could one say Zarqawi made some "tactical errors?" Something tells me the Arab press won't be demanding his head, though.

Strange Neighbors

You never know just how agreeable or strange your neighbors can be until you stop by and visit for a while. For instance, one of my neighbors today in the TTLB Ecosystem is "Lady Calliah" who runs A Kinky Woman's Guide to the Universe.

Maybe Skippy will be interested....

Joe Sestak Off and Running

Retired Navy Vice Admiral Joe Sestak is off to a running start in his campaign for Congress:

Republican U.S. Rep. Curt Weldon and his Democratic opponent, Joe Sestak, appear to be off to a lightning start in their race for campaign cash.

Sestak, trying to demonstrate that he's a serious contender to dislodge Weldon from a seat he has held for two decades, said yesterday that he had raised $420,000 in just under two months as a candidate.
Strangely enough, Sestak's campaign website says nothing about his premature departure from the Navy.

Moussaoui Doesn't Deserve Death

The federal jury considering this 3M's case made one decision today.

Zacarias Moussaoui may be put to death for his role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, a jury found Monday. The jury will consider in a second penalty phase whether to recommend death or life imprisonment for the Al Qaeda devotee.
But now, the jury must go back and decide whether they recommend the death penalty. I am generally a death penalty supporter, but I think this case has one difference. Moussaoui wants to be a martyr, and he clearly thinks that getting the U.S. to execute him is his ticket to Virgin City.

With that in mind, I think we should put him in a small, solitary cell for the rest of his life and make him chafe at the wait.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Asking the Hard Question About "Detainees"

Secretary Rice spoke on the ultimate future of the camp at Guantanamo the other day,

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Saturday she looks forward to the day when the United States can shut down its prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, but she gave no timetable.

The prison will not remain open "any longer than is needed," Rice said at a news conference with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, her host for a two-day visit meant to be a chummy look at ordinary life outside the capital of Washington's closest ally.
But her response raises a bigger question: just what are we going to do with the 3Ms (Murderous Muslim Moonbats) imprisioned there? Assuming the court battles all come to an end and every last military tribunal is completed, then what? Hold them in U.S. prisons? Release them with time served? Or send them to the gallows, or its PC equivalent?

How big is the problem? It's potentially very, very big, because almost 500 people currently fill the camp. My guess is that someone is hoping to pass that buck to the next administration, but it's a question that has to be answered sooner or later.


The (Assumed) Privileges of Power

I've been intermittently following the developments in the case of Rep. McKinney and her encounter with a Capitol Hill police officer. For those of you that haven't, the basic outline of the case is this: Congresswoman tries to enter government building. Guard asks for ID. Congresswoman doesn't have ID, tries to get in anyway. Guard tries to stop her, scuffle ensues. Accusations start flying.

The whole thing reminds me of another powerful person who thought when it came to him, the rules didn't apply. Somehow I don't think this case will be resolved quite so clearly, though.

Update: The Salamander pointed out another fine set of double standards from our government that's worth a read, too.

I Thought This Horse Was Dead, Part III

For background on this extended discussion, see parts I and II.

OYE responded to part II, and the relevant parts begin with this:

Given the constant evolution of and rapid turnover in our military, Carter Administration enlistment data are completely irrelevant today. [They've done their twenty already.]
It's correct that most if not all of those servicemen are no longer serving, but citing the figures provides something OYE desparately wants to conceal: context.

The 1991-2003 enlistees (of whom less than 1% were Category IV - click here) have done great things in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Would you want a high percentage of Category IVs in your unit?
Twice in my career I've had the pleasure of serving as a First Lieutenant aboard warships, and that means one thing: Boatswain's Mates. Out of the 80-125 Sailors in my departments, usually about 15-25% were Cat-IV enlistees, and less than 5% of them gave me any problems. Would I have trusted them with trigonometry? No. But they were almost universally proud, hard working and exceedingly capable technicians and mariners. Would I do it again? In a New York Minute.

We agree that the October figure [of 12% Cat-IV's] may or may not be relevant by itself, precisely because we don't expect the October cohort to be a representative sample of the entire year's recruits. We'd accept your characterization of the October figure as an "outlier" if the Pentagon would release the same information for November, January, February, and now March. Statisticians would not call it an "outlier" without that information; neither should you.
Given that the cap on Cat-IV's for 2005 was not more than 4%, it is statistically impossible for that figure to be representative of the entire year. It may be an ominous predictor for 2006, but, assuming the military did not exceed its cap and fail to report it, for the calendar year it was an outlier.

I certainly expect higher quality reasoning supporting the decisions you make on the job to defend our nation.
Higher quality reasoning? Maybe that means they can't understand data and arguments without any "spin."