Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Ask Why?

Okay, read this article in a the UK Telegraph stating that GEN McChrystal and CSM Hall have decided to do away with some of the amenities on large Afghan bases like Bagram and Kandahar. Burger King, TGIF, etc are about to disappear because, in the Command Sergeant Major's words, "what it comes down to is focus." Uh-huh.
The whole line of reasoning, in both the UK Telegraph and in the CSM's post on the unit blog, sounds a wee bit mangled to me. Okay, the CSM states that "this is a war zone, not an amusement park." Thanks for clearing that up, Sergeant Major. I'm sure that the studs on their second, third, or fourth tour in the box were befuddled by the Pizza Hut trailer (yes, most of the concessions like BK and Pizza Hut are in little trailers, which only have an ordering window and a picnic table out front). In a previous post, I found and linked to a pretty good analysis that argued that
In Iraq and Afghanistan, army combat troops often get 200 days of combat in one 12 month tour, which is more than their grandfathers got during all of World War II.

I'm thinking that few of the kids that are over there have any illusions about where they are and what they are doing. Accusing a troop who looks forward to a whopper--maybe even something so decadent as a whopper with cheese--of not being mission focused, or of thinking that he's been sent to Coney Island for a year, is pretty fucking insulting.
Look, I'm sure that there are reasons for shutting down concessions that the troops enjoy--but I'm also pretty sure that those reasons have more to do with Command perceptions than reality. Those who say that "perception is reality" don't have a tight enough grip on reality.
First of all, the reasoning that troops pushed out on small outposts don't have BK, Pizza Hut, et al is specious. REMFs will always get over compared to front line (or "on outpost") troops, that's the nature of the beast regardless of how many concessions you close.* Okay, the troops on outposts don't have hot chow, running water, or electricity. They are fighting for the mission and their lives every day. So closing Burger King is supposed to give the FOBbits what, moral parity? Have all the FOB Dining Facilities stopped serving Surf & Turf once a week? I've served both on FOBs and out in the field, and I can tell you that
1. Nothing the FOBbits could go through would make me cut them any slack, and
2. Although I never thought of it in these terms then, knowing the privations any REMFs were going through would not have ameliorated my own bitches about my own hardships.
Oh, and do you think a troop assigned to a far-flung outpost might enjoy a Whopper when he passes through the FOB on that rare occasion when the mission pulls him back?
Mongo Rule #4: Never begrudge anyone a good deal.
Another reason proffered for saving our troops from the threat to good order and discipline that consuming french fries boiled up in hydrogenated vegetable oil is that Afghanistan-based units need the storage space and convoy volume in order to support the surge that are currently encumbered by concessionaires. Uh-huh. Then I'm sure that there is a staff study out there showing that combat troops are shorted because of (Burger King- rather than Dining Facility-bound) sesame seed hamburger buns.
Also, let's at least be consistent. The CSM expounds on the decision on the ISAF blog, but while his post has a lot of good Sergeant Major shit in it, it doesn't provide a lot of clarity to the decision making process. Burger King is being closed, but the Green Bean coffee shops are staying open. Let's see, where do people generally go when their explicit purpose is to fuck off? A burger stand, or a coffee house? Do the troops on the combat outposts have Green Bean and Starbucks, but not Burger King, so that's why the BK has to go?
I guess this is one of those command imponderables: why ask why?

*I remember waay back when I was a young 2LT Platoon leader during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. I had a lot of frustrations trying to accomplish the mission within our incredibly austere logistics environment. My units Deployment SOP stated that troops had to deploy with two pairs of boots. Within a few short weeks of working daily in ankle-deep sand, most troops' boots were abraded all the way through, and the guys were binding them up with 100 mph tape (the mil version of duct tape). Digging a foxhole in the sand was ever so much fun, but once we had cracked the code on the digging/sandbag emplacement kabuki dance that would let us actually dig a name-tape deep foxhole, we were still screwed because we couldn't get the 4x4 planks of plywood that we needed to use as the base of our overhead cover. We were eating MREs for every meal, except that the unit strove to provide us with a hot T-ration meal, with some sort of reasonably fresh salad and one soda pop per man at least once a week.
So after we had been there (Saudi Arabia) for a couple/three months, I get tagged one month to go to Corps to pick up the cash for the monthly battalion casual pay. My unit dropped me off at battalion, which gave me a ride up to brigade. After that, I pretty much had to hitchhike to division and from there to corps. The whole thing took about three days up and three days back, and is a story unto itself--especially the return trip. For whatever reason, some reg or policy stated that I had to have a side arm. So I had to turn in my M16-A2 and draw a M1911 .45, which was older than me, if not my father, and sort of rattled a lot if you shook it. Yuh, I was real happy hitchhiking home with a ratty-ass pistol and a briefcase with around $50k in it. What could possibly go wrong?
The point of the story is what happened when I got up to corps. First I had to get a legal brief from the Staff Judge Advocate pukes (reverting to my Infantry mindset for the purposes of the story). The huge GP Large Tent was totally floored with...4x4 pieces of plywood that you can be damn sure should've been up front providing troops with some means of building overhead cover. Every corps puke REMF bastard was wearing a brand new set of boots--desert boots!--specifically designed to withstand the Saudi sands. I (no shit) saw pallets of soda pop strewn about, and almost had a fucking aneurysm when I watched a couple young troops grab sodas off the pallet, take a couple quick swigs, and then toss their cans into the 55-gallon drum still half full. I also saw pallets filled with bundles of glassine envelopes with some kind of cardboard element inside. I found out that these weird widgets were water-operated MRE heaters. Who knew? I asked a couple of people that seemed associated with supply and/or transportation when these pallets--pallets!!--of MRE heaters would be pushed to the front. No one seemed to know. They never were.
Needless to say, the whole trip was an awakening.

Monday, March 29, 2010

An Elephant, An Ant, And The Punchline,"Did I Hurt You, Darling?"

I meant to post on this jackassery this weekend, but got caught up in domestic stuff (Panthers Girls' Softball win 10-1, meow!) . Not a big deal that I'm two days late, because the event itself was rooty-poot.
Earth hour: WTF is that about?
So, for one hour during the evening, we're supposed to turn off our lights, and presto! change-o! We'll make an impact on man-made global warming, or (now that the "warming" piece isn't working out so well) Man Made Climate Change. Or, if you're an egghead that has to prove your point by establishing unassailable intellectual acumen, Anthropogenic Climate Change. Phooey.
Y'know, even before the whole climate gate thing kicked in, I had some serious doubts about the whole "man-made" global warming spiel. I'm not going to try to document it here, and besides, you can go to Rush Limbaugh to get real citations for 100,001 reasons to throw the bullshit flag. While not a scientist, I'm pretty big on the scientific method and use it as a lens through which to view a lot of life [yuh, my primary lens is the martial arts, no doubt and don't get your panties in an uproar; but check it out, when I'm out on the mats and I've heard about, seen, or experienced a certain tactic or technique, I immediately break out the ol' scientific method: let's see if we can turn this observation into a hypothesis into a theory for the appropriate conduct of close combat through trial and error]. I don't see that from the protagonists of the Global Warming crowd. Do you?
I hear plenty of shrill screams that the science is settled. I hear plenty of "denier" ad hominem attacks. And, most damningly, I hear constant, almost plaintive excuses as to why or how the raw data of the "theory" can't be turned over for independent verification. Huh?
Despite the "elephant/ant" joke alluded to above, the imagery that the hysterical global warming crowd evokes is that of a breech clout-clothed shaman, his hair festooned with peacock feathers and his body whitewashed in a lime-paste coat dragging a screaming, kicking virgin up the volcano in order to throw her in, and thus appease the fire gods and prevent an eruption.
So for our designated time-hack for earth hour, I lit up the house (and a cigar), vacuumed every damn room while I had the kids keeping the laundry wheel spinning, and cooled the house to a nice 61 degrees--oh, and I had all the girls (trading off between folding and loading iterations) run shifts through the shower and had them blow dry/curl/flatten/whatever their hair.
Earth Hour my...pale moon.
Of course, maybe like most people, I don't deserve a vote because I'm too stupid, so democracy should be suspended while my intellectual and moral betters figure out what's good for me--and the planet.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Practice...And Clear Days

-Operating in temps below -40C? Not a problem.
-Iron sights, because optics won't survive the cold and give your position away, anyway? Piece of cake.
-Half your face shot off? Just doin' the job, man.
-Total body count? Oh, around 700 (200 up close with a sub-machine gun).

Any way you slice it, Simo Häyhä was a stone cold stud (no pun intended). Yeah, "the White Death" is a pretty pretentious moniker, but I'd say he earned it...

H/t to AoSHQ

Monday, March 15, 2010

There's Always a Silver Lining...Or Not

Another from Mr. Rummel: The Sad Facts of Life.
My personal favorite:

SFOL#67: All warnings on medicine bottles are bullshit. You can always take more than 6 of anything in 24 hours, and you can drink alcohol with EVERYTHING.

A Point To Ponder

Hell in a Hand Basket poses a question that strikes close to home. I've not been posting much lately. Not because I've lost my desire to blog, but more because I'm stuck with the ingrained ethic of "if you can't do it right, don't do it at all." So, while there are a plethora of subjects I'd like to blog about, I'm chary of putting out weak or poorly formulated posts.
Everyone knows that a blog entry is not going to be as refined as, say, a submission to a professional journal (and, uh, I'm not doing that, either). Still, I'm a far cry from establishing a decent "blog balance." Working through it.
Cutesy comments about current events are one thing. But serious topics deserve serious consideration and a decent rendering of the pro's and con's.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

It's Kind Of Like "Conjunction Junction," Only For Today

If they'd shown me this in Econ 101, I might've passed the damn course. Good piece of work, because whichever side you believe in, the vid makes you pound your chest, proclaiming "see what I'm talking about?"

H/t (gulp) The Daily Kos

It Ain't About How Hard You Hit

Generally, This Just Isn't Done...

...But in this particular case, there's an exception to policy. Usually, aviators aren't awarded he-man studmuffin nifty rad hep cat macho points. Whatever heroic actions they take, are counterbalanced by the blow-dryers and beeswax lip gloss--er, balm. However, Flight Lieutenant Ian Fortune has given the whole of the aviation community bonus + man points for about the next three years.
Well done, LT.

Imperial Hubris

Blackfive points out that we're doing it again, foisting our American culture on a hapless indigenous culture for what are probably invidious reasons.
Blood for oil? Nope.
False accusations of WMD? Nope.
It's even worse: reflector belts.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

People In The Keys Are Pretty Laid Back...

...but if the Obama administration and NOAA ram through all these fishing regulations/restrictions, I do believe the Conch Republic will secede from the Union.

How Low Have You Sunk...

...when your breastmilk is declared a biohazard?

H/t Drudge