Thursday, June 14, 2007

"Reid labels military leader 'incompetent'"

...but he supports the troops.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called Marine Gen. Peter Pace, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, "incompetent" during an interview Tuesday with a group of liberal bloggers, a comment that was never reported.

Reid made similar disparaging remarks about Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said several sources familiar with the interview.

This is but the latest example of how Reid, under pressure from liberal activists to do more to stop the war, is going on the attack against President Bush and his military leaders in anticipation of a September showdown to end U.S. involvement in Iraq, according to Democratic senators and aides.

More here. Also check out this AP story on the same topic which includes two Congresscritters throwing around the phrase "dereliction of duty" when referring to Gen. Pace.

Honor might not mean anything to people in Congress, but most people everyone in the military takes it very seriously. Cadets like myself live under an Honor Code. "We will not lie, steal, or cheat nor tolerate anyone among us who does." It sounds very boilerplate, something that we might say but not actually follow...let me assure you, we follow it. Cadets who cheat at the Academies (or ROTC for that matter) are kicked out. Period. There was a story that we were told during Field Training Prep about a cadet at FT a few years ago who was on profile for failing his first PFT. If he failed his next PFT, he would be sent home. He was one situp away from passing his second PFT when time was called. All his spotter and him would have had to do was change the 39 to a 40. No one would've known.

They didn't. He was sent home. But he left with his honor intact.

Words mean something to us. Words like duty, honor, and country. If we are derelict in our duties, it means we've failed our country. Accusing someone of dereliction of duty is not to be taken lightly. It's the reason Col. McMaster's book caused such a big commotion. Dereliction of duty is one of the worst slurs you can level against someone in the military, especially a senior officer. In fact, we punish dereliction of duty with a court-martial.

I'm not saying Gen. Pace didn't commit dereliction of duty (I personally don't feel that way, but that's neither here nor there). I'm simply saying that civilians in general, and Congress in particular, should take better note of what words they use when talking about the military.

I shouldn't have to, but I think I need to remind some people of what happened the last time a senior officer's honor was called into question.

As a side note, this question has been bothering me for some what point do you stop being a troop worthy of supporting and become someone able to be attacked for being a Bush yes-man? As a potential future officer in the USAF, this is of no small concern to me. I mean, I want to get in on all the troop supporting that I can before I become an evil neocon Bushbot. Is it when you make flag? When you become a field grade officer? Are all officers part of the conspiracy? What about senior NCOs? These are important questions that need to be answered. Consider this an open question...I'd just like to know.

h/t: Chap

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

License Plates (part III)

The Navy guys will probably appreciate this one (especially Lex):

"Canoe U"

"Hostile Takeover"

Add it to the list of things you aren't allowed to say on an airplane:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - F-16s intercepted a small plane after officials misinterpreted a phrase uttered by the pilot as his aircraft flew over military airspace: "hostile takeover."

The pilot was talking about business, the plane's owner said. But a frantic air traffic controller couldn't confirm that because the pilot had turned off his radio, said Maj. Roger Yates of the Clay County Sheriff's Department.

Within minutes, federal aviation authorities scrambled the fighter jets to intercept the plane Monday evening just outside of Oklahoma City and escort it to the Clay County airport near Mosby.

h/t: Alert 5

Monday, June 11, 2007

"Changes will ultimately benefit Airmen"

...says CMSAF McKinley. What changes you ask? Why force shaping, of course. You know, that lovely little program where the USAF is going to lose 40,000 personnel over the next three years, saving $6 billion a year. So yes, I suppose the changes will benefit Airmen, as long as you aren't one of those lucky 40,000. According to Chief McKinely, it will be "difficult" and take "strong leadership" to get there, but once we do, "we're going to be right sized and have much better capabilities." Of course, "better capabilities" is a relative term when you are flying 50 year old tankers and bombers and have sons flying the exact same fighters that their fathers flew. The Chief also said that the Air Force is no longer able to do more with less, and must "find ways to do less with less."

In other news, the beatings will continue until the morale improves. I know it's kind of a hippie thing to wish for the Pentagon to have bake sales, but seriously...anyone up for having an Air Force bake sale? We could probably get a few hundred bucks. That'd be enough for a bolt or two on one of those shiny new Raptors. Maybe even a nut!

Chinooks in AF

Currently watching the last half of a pretty cool show on PBS called "America at a Crossroads." This episode is entitled "From Kansas to Kandahar: Citizen Soldiers at War." It's about an Army Reserve Chinook unit from KS recalled to extended active duty first in Pakistan responding to the earthquake in '05 and then deploying into AF. It's a very different show because they think nothing of simply letting several minutes of uncut video of a helo assault run with nothing for audio but the chopper turbines and radio chatter. I like it a lot better than the usual 2 sentences of radio chatter with 15 seconds of footage before the narrator's voice cuts back in. Lots of good camera diaries with people just speaking into the camera about their feelings, etc. I highly recommend it if you can catch it on your PBS station.

Couple of pretty good quotes:

During an air assault...

"Feel like Ride of the Valkyeries should be playing or something."
"Duh-duh-duh-duuuh-duh, duh-duh-duh-duuuh-duh--"
"Wagner you ain't."
"Roger that sir."
"...hey sir? I love the smell of napalm in the morning."

Crew Chief: "We got two detainees comin' on, no guards."
AC: "No guards?"
Crew Chief: "No guards."
AC: "If they act up they're goin' out the back."

"Why are we in Afghanistan? I don't know...that's for people who make more money than me."

"People are gettin' tired, gettin' worn out...I hope the more tired they get the more diligent they get in their duties."

"I've got 32 years to retirement--I know that sounds so horrible."

I think the funniest moment of the entire show was very unintentional. The camera crew is interviewing this young female lieutenant about the recent losses some infantry units suffered in their AOR. While she's talking about warfare and death, "that guy," dressed in his ACUs and wearing his IBA and helmet rode by in the background on a nice little ten speed. On a FOB in AF.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Tough Guy

Lt. Col. Peter Byrne. What did he do? Oh not much...just flew an F-16 for 90 minutes after suffering a stroke before landing safely.
The award recipient, Lt. Col. Peter Byrne, was honored for an incident last June in which he had a stroke while flying an F-16 Fighting Falcon out of Buckley Air Force Base, Colo. Colonel Byrne kept his jet aloft for another 90 minutes before returning to Buckley.

"Living through a stroke with immediate care is tough enough," General Corley said of the Air National Guardsman. "To do it while flying an F-16 is superhuman."


Colonel Byrne's decisive actions and ability to cope with the traumatic event prevented a potentially catastrophic mishap. While engaged in tactical combat maneuvers, he felt a pinching in his neck, what would later be diagnosed as the dissection of his vertebral artery.

"I could barely move my arms or hands," said Colonel Byrne, 140th Wing vice commander. "It took every bit of concentration I had just to get the autopilot on."

Fighting vertigo, pain and nausea, Colonel Byrne said his primary concern was avoiding populated areas in case he had to eject. His wingmen quickly came to his aid and flew with him for the next hour and a half, helping him stay focused.

With fuel running low, Colonel Byrne's symptoms eased enough for him to coax the F-16 back to Buckley for a perfect landing.

"By some miracle, I was able to land," Colonel Byrne said. "I credit my survival in the air to my wingmen and I credit my survival on the ground to the discipline and efforts of the crews on the ground. They saved my life. It's truly an honor to receive this award."
There's not much I can add to that.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Come on boys, get it up!

This has to be one of the funniest videos I have seen in a loooooong time. I'm not sure which is funnier: the subject matter of the video, or the fact that it is shot like a '70s techno-thriller, ala China Syndrome. Either way it's friggin' hilarious.

Oh, should warn you...probably NSFW. No nudity or anything, but the subject matter is a little...risque.

This worries me

Adm. Mullen's nomination as JCS Chairman and more specifically, the reasons for Gen. Pace's "early" retirement. It's not that I don't think Adm. Mullen will do a great job, I'm sure he will. What worries me is the degree to which Iraq and to a lesser extent Afghanistan have come to bear on U.S. military affairs. It's not surprising, but this decision by SecDef Gates is revealing of that.
"I think that the events of the last several months have simply created an environment in which I think there would be a confirmation process that would not be in the best interests of the country," Gates said. "I wish it were not necessary to make a decision like this. But I think it's a realistic appraisal of where we are."


Gates said he had been told by Republican and Democratic senators that a confirmation hearing for Pace would be a "backward-looking and very contentious process."

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., acknowledged such advice, saying he had gathered views from a broad range of senators. "I found that the views of many senators reflected my own," and confirmation would have focused on the past four years of war, he said.

A spokesman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton D-N.Y., said she, too, believed it would have been a difficult renomination.

A spokesman for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., said she, too, believed it would have been a difficult renomination." "When it comes to Iraq it's not enough for President Bush to change the cast, he must also change their script," said the spokesman, Philippe Reines.

Read that last again. In response to a query having something to do with the renomination of the Chairman of the JCS, the spokesman releases a standard soundbite about Iraq. Meanwhile, the USAF continues to hemorrhage personnel and keeps on with its 50 year old aircraft, China is upgrading its fighter force, tankers, and sub fleet while getting ready to shoot down our satellites, and the Navy...well, the Navy is using its amphibs to chase down pirates because that was the only platform available.

But hey, the only REAL challenge facing the military today is Iraq.

And by "real" I mean "offering prime political opportunity."

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Launch the SAR Birds!

Yeah, I've just been busy...between working 10-11 hour days, working out for an hourish after work, reading memorizing my Field Training Manual and other assorted bits of information I need to know frontwards and backwards before I go to Maxwell, and going to Iowa on the weekends to see the girlfriend/having the girlfriend come see me, there just hasn't been much time.

Which isn't an excuse, just more of a justification. On the plus side, I shot some trap out at her place last weekend and proved that I still know how to make blue rock shatter. Which is nice.

However, as previously mentioned, FT is rapidly approaching, so I make no promises as to blogging frequency. 41 days and a wake-up. 41 days, you say, that's a long time. Ah, but you see, I'm counting down to when I'm DONE with FT. I leave 20 June. Which is considerably closer than 41 days. In any case, I hope to have some sort of arrangement where I can get someone to post letters from FT. The only problem might be possible OPSEC issues, which sounds rather stupid, but there are things that I may want to write home about from FT that shouldn't be getting out on the web. So we'll see about that.

Well, time to make some phone calls/eat dinner/read the FTM/go to bed. Till next time...