I bet that captain didn't get a band at his change-of-command....
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.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.
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.
Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,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?
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!
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.Let's look at the evidence:
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.
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.Now that's scary.
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.
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.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.
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."
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.I expect the reaction will be swift in the blogosphere, and the deal will get methodically picked apart in the near future.
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."
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.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.
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.
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.Despite nearly $10b per month for the war on terror, Americans' still think their tinsel and lights budget is more important.
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."
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.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?
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.
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.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.
The missiles, purchased from North Korea, have a range of 1,550 miles and are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, Haaretz reported.
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 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.
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.
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.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."
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.
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.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.
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."
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.
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.
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."
“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.
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 andI'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.
other signal Islamic texts.
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.Don't be the last in your neighborhood to self-diagnose. Try it out now!
"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.
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.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.
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 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.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.
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]
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.All milbloggers should review the rules and report when complete.
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.
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.
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.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.
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.
...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.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.
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.
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 BaghdadThe whole article is worth reading for those interested.
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 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.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.
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.
I am a United States Sailor.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.
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.
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.
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.Read the whole thing and report when complete.
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."
"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.
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.
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.Hopefully they won't run into the same problems America has with chaplains.
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.
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)?
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.Can anyone tell me the last time a ship was developed and built on budget, much less under budget?
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.
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.Maybe all hope is not lost on the value and effectiveness of the IAEA.
"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.
[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.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.
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.
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.The Good Book says that money is the root of all kinds of evil, but I think a close contender is ambition. Disappointing.
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.
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.If he's found guilty, he should go to jail -- for a long, long time.
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.
Rep. Cynthia McKinney, D-Ga., expressed "sincere regret" Thursday for her altercation with a Capitol police officer, and offered an apology to the House.Either that or these people got to her.
"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."
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.And the usual suspects aren't happy:
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.”
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.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."
“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.”
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.Those of you visiting from Smalltown, USA, might want to ask some hard questions of your local governments in the near future.
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.
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.Does this mean we're getting better at catching the smugglers, or just that shipment by sea is becoming more popular?
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.
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.
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 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.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.Could one say Zarqawi made some "tactical errors?" Something tells me the Arab press won't be demanding his head, though.
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.
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.Strangely enough, Sestak's campaign website says nothing about his premature departure from the Navy.
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.
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.
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.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?
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.
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."