Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

If You Can't Do The Time, Don't Do The Crime

Or, um, okay, maybe the time idn't so bad, all things considered.

This kind of thing, though, might start a crime wave.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Obviously, He Had Numbers On His Side

For as long as I can remember, the professionals I've known (to include Pops Mongo) have had a reverential respect for the Gurkhas.
I've never had cause to think that respect was misplaced.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Voting With Their Feet

Not only is the shrinking gene pool from which we get the Troops we need to maintain the predominant military force on the planet a problem, but retaining the good Officers to lead and employ them is problematic, too.  The Atlantic drills down into why a lot of our best talent is voting with its feet.
The best point: It's not the money.
The next best is that you can't just try to change the culture.  Change the system, and the culture will adapt.  I made some similar points on breaking up the "cookie cutter" career path earlier.  While I agree with the need to change in principle, I'm a little leery of Tim Kane's recommendations.
Here is how a market alternative would work. Each commander would have sole hiring authority over the people in his unit. Officers would be free to apply for any job opening. If a major applied for an opening above his pay grade, the commander at that unit could hire him (and bear the consequences). Coordination could be done through existing online tools such as monster.com or careerbuilder.com (presumably those companies would be interested in offering rebranded versions for the military). If an officer chose to stay in a job longer than “normal” (“I just want to fly fighter jets, sir”), that would be solely between him and his commander. 
This approach is a little suspicious to me.  True, it facilitates recognizing and rewarding niche brilliance, but my sense is that it would, over time, lapse into nepotism.  If a guy is, in his own estimation, successful as a Lieutenant Colonel because of the Majors and Captains assigned to him, then there's a good chance he'll pull these guys into his orbit as a Colonel.  This runs the risk of developing, as a co-worker of mine once succinctly put it, ,into  "impenetrable titanium cylinders of excellence."  Look at how the insularity and lack of perspective that Stanley McChrystal's hand-picked staff possessed laid him low. Also, a lot of "high-speed"--or at least high demand-- positions would become difficult if not impossible to break into if one hasn't had the right opportunity to fellate the right officers over the course of the years.
Still, the vast, heart-breaking numbers of Lieutenants and Captains that I got to know in Iraq, great young leaders all, who were determined to get out once they got home because of their disillusionment with their local leadership and the military bureaucracy bespeak the need for a change.

20th Century Cloak and Dagger Meets the 21st Century

I'd heard a little bit about the Mossad hit on Hamas bigwig Al Mabhouh in Dubai, and that the Mossad bungled it.  This article lays out what happened about as well as anything else out there. 
It doesn't sound like the mission was "bungled" in the since that bad TTP were employed (after all, Al Mabhouh is deader'n shit), so much as the TTP weren't updated to meet the challenges of running such an operation under the Unblinking Eye that is life in the 21st century.  Also, per the article, yeah, it sounds like hubris played a decisive role in the loss of deniability: assuming your opponent is a dumb ass is no way to preserve OPSEC, son.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Unleash the Hounds

Dennis Miller is the funniest guy, and most perceptive commentator, in the country.  I can say that shit because this is a blog and my opinion counts, dammit.  Anyway, he's got a new special, "The Big Speech" coming out.
Here's a taste:

Only Half Right

Matthew, over at Straight Forward in a crooked world, always has posts chock-full of good to know stuff. Okay, so you may never find yourself trying to exfil Zimbabwe with the kidnap victim whose release you just negotiated, but still, it'd be nice to know what you should have in your kit bag if you do, right?
But his observations on the recent Florida school board shooting are only half right, and to some extent miss the point--or at least, don't highlight the point that is missed by the law-givers and law abiding public. His half-right sentiments are
When you encounter an individual whose desire is violence, death and destruction you must meet him on equal terms. While it may seem brave for a man to try and lovingly talk a gunman into laying down his gun and save his life or for an old woman to swing her purse at a gunman it simply is not appropriate.

If you have a gun you shoot him, if you have a knife you make a strategic move to get behind him if you can and put the knife into the back of his skull or kidneys. If all you have is a fire extinguisher you blind him with the spray get out of the path of blind fire and use the canister to bludgeon him to death and leave his head a bloody pulp on the linoleum.

The problem is, even if you apply via the FL Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Division of Licensing (I know, right?) and get your concealed weapons permit, you won't have your weapon of choice on you at the school board meeting, because guns (and the other weapons covered by the permit) aren't allowed there; just like they're not allowed on school grounds. So, if you happened to be a concerned, civic-minded parent going to the school board meeting, you are stuck with going the (most dangerous, least effective) fire extinguisher route right off the bat (no pun intended). Whatever Mr. Duke's widow says, it is only by the grace of God that no innocents were slain.
Now tell me, after watching the video, did Mr. Duke seem distressed about breaking the law and bringing a gun to a school board meeting?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Hey, "Turbo," Ever Hear Of "Quiet" Professionals?

WTF.

We Are All Screwed

Just watched the infamous, nefarious videos from the USS Enterprise's XO-cum-CDR.  You can find them at this here link.  I got the link (I think) from CDR Salamandar.
I've heard a lot of hemming and hawing about the videos, and how much CPT--oops, Capt Honors had to do with making them, and how offensive they are and that any officer who would promulgate, let alone star in, such videos obviously has displayed a gross lack of judgment.  Okay.  I'll critique the film.
First--
-I'm an Army guy, not a fucking squid, so I may well misinterpret or flat-out get wrong some of the cultural stuff.
- I don't necessarily like the Navy.
-I have, however, a lot of Joint time under my belt.  Not much time, though, working with Navy surface warfare or aviation guys.
-the only time I've ever been on aircraft carriers was to lilly-pad off of them, so I am absolutely unqualified to comment on carrier operations, culture, lifestyle, or humor.
That, said, let me comment on carrier operations, culture, lifestyle, and humor.
The videos were funny.  Sure, the use of the pejorative "fag*" was used a couple times.  This was done by the XO's aviation "alter-ego" aviator toward the SWO.  Uh, other than the use of this heinous word, fag, the skit was a dig at naval aviators, who are often caricatured as looking down on everyone, especially at surface warfare guys.  Note, too, that the SWO always hits back, usually by flipping the bird, although my favorite hit-back was, when masturbation was the subject, by stating "you've got the smoothest hands on the ship" or something like that.  This can be interpreted to mean:
1) you do less work than anyone on the ship
2) your hands are so sleek and smooth because you jerk off more than anyone on the ship
3) I know your hands are so smooth because you spend so much time jerking me off
or 4) any combination of 1-3, which are all pretty funny going from a surface guy to an aviator.
So, the "fag" comments were, in my admittedly unschooled estimation, a way of poking fun at the aviators, not the fag SWOs.  It was satire.  Get over it.
Apparently, other than the fact that "fag" was used, the use of the term and concept of "masturbation" was deployed for comic relief.  Gee, who'd've thought that on a ship with 6,000 crew members, deployed for 6-9 months, where fraternization with the opposite sex is cause for disciplinary action regardless of marital status, masturbation would be a running joke?  And to actually mention it and joke about it on the ship's CCTV?  Scandalous.  I am shocked and appalled.  Not.
Without a dog in the fight, let me just say that this guy (CPT, oops, I mean Capt Honors) was probably going above and beyond in trying to entertain the crew and humanize the chain of command.  The Navy's rank structure is, in my experience, a lot more hierarchical than the Army's (much to the chagrin of a lot of senior Army guys).  A Captain, in the XO position, is neigh unto a God upon the waters.  The fact that a lot of the humor actually poked fun at and holes in the persona of the XO (e.g., waking up with guys in the sack with him; threads of continuity to rum, sodomy, and the lash, anyone?) shows that the guy was demonstrating that he wasn't an automaton.  I'd be willing to bet, sight unseen, that if one were to view all the content of all of the XO's videos, one would find all kinds of admonitions to maintaining the standard, upholding the traditions of the Navy, and going above and beyond to support the war on terror.
I read some talking head somewhere that stated "the XO of that sized ship is pretty busy, how'd he have time to do anything else?"  Because, numbnuts, he had a couple guys working production, and he made time out of his schedule to do something that--right or wrong--he viewed as good for the crew.  And he has the time to do it because he only sleeps 2-3 hours a night.  See that part about him taking a shower with his comms unit in a waterproof baggie?  I'm betting that was only partly in jest.
To relieve a guy for these videos (made, I hear, two or three years ago), is a sad statement on the military.  How about standing up for the guy, putting the vids in context, and explaining to the great unwashed punditry the cultural differences between a ship at war and the salons of PC circle-jerkery in the beltway?
All I can say is:
-thank God I never made any videos. Not that I'm ever going to get promoted again or be in command of something comparable to an aircraft carrier.
- If this is cause the relief of a proven, wartime leader, we are all screwed.

*In my job, having hung up the guns and now devoted to typing, filing, and making coffee, I'm known as a Former Action Guy.  Hmmm, what acronym do you think I have to live with?

Rednecks Got Nothing On Vacationing Serbs

Man, I thought US Grade-A Truck Drivin' Bocephus-listenin' Rednecks would hands down win any drunken "Hey, ya'll, check this shit out" contests.

After this Serb pulled his stunt, though, Team Redneck is going to have to up its game.

It's Procreation, Not Rocket Surgery

DADT in a different culture.
And they really mean, "don't tell":

And, the impact of those experiences is already being felt in portions of Afghanistan, putting American forces squarely in the middle of complex moral, social and sexual issues. A source at Army Special Operations command tells In From the Cold that Afghan women, emboldened by the presence of U.S. troops. have complained about beatings they've suffered at the hands of their husbands. The domestic violence reportedly stemmed from the inability of the women to become pregnant and produce sons, highly valued in Afghan society.
When U.S. civil affairs teams (and other special forces units) quietly investigated the problem, they quickly discovered a common denominator. Virtually all of the younger men who beat their wives (over their inability to become pregnant) had been former "apprentices" of older Afghan men, who used them for their sexual pleasure. Upon entering marriage, whatever the men knew of sex had been learned during their "apprenticeship," at the hands of the older man. To put it bluntly, some of the younger Afghans were unfamiliar with the desired (and required) mechanics for conception.

DADT Repeal Is The Least Of Our Recruiting Woes

The repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell may or may not have a deleterious effect on recruiting, but In From the Cold reports that we've got more serious problems than whether the God Fearing Hillbilly can serve (and fight, live, shower, etc.) with an openly out Johnny Swish; a vast swathe of our recruiting gene pool can't even pass the cognitive aptitude tests to get into the service

Also mentioned is the issue of new recruits' physical fitness, or lack thereof.  However, since most of our data on the portion of the population that is overweight or obese is drawn from the Body Mass Index, I'm less concerned about that.  According to the BMI, pretty much every member of every NFL team would be obese or morbidly obese (to include them little skinny kicker fellas).  While the BMI--and the Army's height/weight standards--tend to favor Thoroughbreds, there is a compelling argument that there is a military requirement for draft horses.  The problem is that BMI doesn't allow one to discriminate between a lard ass and a hard ass.
And, going out on a limb here, as I'm not really in a position to evaluate or observe new soldiers in action, there are a couple of points that give me cause for pause before I condemn the Nintendo (or wii or X-box, whatever) generation.  First, the guys making editorial comments are all older/senior guys.  Every generation thinks those behind it are softer/have had it easier than they did.  Second, attainment of physical fitness is a matter of will and motivation.  If the Army can't supply that, then we've got bigger problems than the fitness level of Generation Couch Potato.  Finally, fitness is to a great extent relative.  A guy who can crush the Army PT test can get crushed by any randomly picked Crossfit WOD, and I know a whole lot of Crossfit fanatics that get gassed PDQ on the jiu-jitsu mats, unless they also train for that in their spare time*.

*Not going all billy-badass here dissin' my crossfit brethren; most WODs make me want to curl into the fetal position and start thumb-sucking.

A Mongo New Year; Kind Of Like A Redneck New Year, Only Everyone Was Sober

New Year's Eve Day, I took the Lads and Mongolette #1 out to the local range. There, we linked up with the unit marksmanship instructor. The Lads cut their teeth on employing pretty much anything that could launch a projectile, but it was time for Mongolette #1 to get her 101 course in combat handgunning, shotgunning, and use of the AR.





The day got a "two-thumbs up" from everyone.