Wednesday, January 31, 2007


If you don't celebrate, you deserve to die and I hope you burn in hell!

Monday, January 29, 2007

Command Sgt. Maj. Marilyn L. Gabbard

Flags will be at half-staff on campus tomorrow. They're going to be burying a good woman in the next town over.

Makes You Wonder Why

No one in this country takes the U.N. seriously. IAEA Director El Baradei called for a "timeout" in the showdown between the U.N. and Iran over Iran's nuclear program. El Baradei also reportedly said that Iran would be sent to their room with supper, and if this kept up, the belt might come out.

Jesus, did he really say that? Yes, he did. The U.N. passes watered down sanctions and then refuses to enforce them...when have we seen this before? Oh, that's right...more or less every U.N. action since 1991 or so.

In any case, we also had this lovely soundbite from the chief negotiator:

"Iran's nuclear issue has different angles and sides to it, and does not have a simple one-line solution," he said in Tehran."

I've got a one line solution for you: B61 Mod 11.

What I Wish the President Would Tell Iran

Saw this news story..."Iran's plans in Iraq were outlined by Iranian Ambassador Hassan Kazemi Qumi in an interview with The New York Times. He said Iran was prepared to offer Iraqi government forces training, equipment and advisers for what he called "the security fight," the newspaper reported. He said that in the economic area, Iran was ready to assume major responsibility for the reconstruction of Iraq.

"We have experience of reconstruction after war," the ambassador said, referring to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. "We are ready to transfer this experience in terms of reconstruction to the Iraqis.""

Last time I checked, IEDs weren't really the kind of experience in reconstruction that the Iraqis need.

Also, from the second link, found this quote particularly telling:

"And one of the biggest open secrets in Iraq is the identity of the station chief of Iranian intelligence. According to former CIA official Riedel, he is one of the "most important figures in Baghdad." But this person operates from the Iranian Embassy, almost certainly under cover of diplomatic immunity. While his identity is known to intelligence agencies and his activities may be watched, there is little if anything—short of a violation of diplomatic conventions that could amount to an act of war—that U.S. forces can do to shut him down."

Because, you know, Khobar Towers, the Beirut Barracks, Beirut Embassy, the kidnapping of William Buckley, and the hijacking of TWA Flight 847/murder of Robert Stethem were just communication between nations, not acts of war. Besides, the Iranians would NEVER even THINK of violating diplomatic conventions. Oh wait...

In any case, here's the message I'd like sent:

Just in case you're wondering why I'm so pissed off at Iran, here's a fun fact: "Before Sept. 11, the armed wing of Hezbollah, often working on behalf of Iran, was responsible for more American deaths than in any other terrorist attacks."

We've been at war with them for almost 30 years now, and they'll keep on killing Americans until we accept that fact.

I'm Looking Forward to...

...This movie.

(slightly different trailer at the above link.)

As Noonan says over at Milblogs, I'm a sucker for any movie about Vietnam that manages to avoid the "military ruined my life" narrative. If this interests you at all, a friend sends along the message that you should check out a documentary by Werner Herzog (director of Rescue Dawn) about the same pilot/POW, Dieter Dengler, called Little Dieter Needs to Fly. I plan on watching sometime in the upcoming weeks.

Since it is only a little over a month till it comes out, check this out as well. (HD version at the link; well worth checking out.)

SPARTANS--Tonight, we dine in HELL!!

India's NORAD?

No time for commentary, but I thought this story was rather interesting.

"India says it is to build an aerospace defence command aimed at preventing possible attacks from space."

Also, I found the two final paragraphs of the story interesting, as I had not heard anything about this story:

"Last week India said it successfully tested the technology which ensures the safe return of astronauts from space after an orbiting capsule returned to Earth.

The capsule splashed down in the Bay of Bengal off the east coast after 11 days orbiting the earth, the Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) said."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Cheap and Tawdry

You know, for all the slamming I do of our government, and the military in particular, for their not understanding the principles of 4GW and the importance of the media and perceptions, I can be thankful that those domestically who are on the other side are even less competent. (Less competent than the, that's a low blow.)


Also in attendance were Sean "I went to Iraq, you know" Penn, Susan "skills are fading with age" Sarandon, Tim "guuuard" Robbins, Rep. John "IMPEACHMENT!!!!111" Conyers, and a 12 year old who organized a petition drive to end the war in her school. If this is the brain trust the left puts together to oppose the war, I think we should feel pretty secure that things will be fine.


I mentioned Arlington in the post below; while I was following the links this afternoon I came across a site that details a little known group of (mainly) women who have an incredibly difficult job. The Arlington Ladies are a group of women that act as the representative of the Army, Navy, or Air Force at funerals at Arlington. Make sure to check out the whole thing, as it is a fascinating read. Some of these women have seen it all. I certainly do not envy them.

Also while following the links, I found these two beautiful photos. I recommend clicking on the second one for the high-res version to really get the full effect. Anyway, thought you might enjoy...

Fire in the Cockpit

Today marks the 40th Anniversary of the launchpad fire in the Apollo 1 capsule that claimed the lives of Virgil "Gus" Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. As John Young says in the article, their deaths paved the way for a successful program that culminated in the Apollo 11 moon landing.

I was down at KSC a few years ago during a trip to Florida and was able to get on a tour of some of the old launch sites. Part of the tour was going out to the remains of Pad 34, which is the pad where the Apollo 1 fire took place. It is definitely a very solemn spot, just as solemn as Arlington or The Wall, but in a different way. At Arlington, you know that you are standing on hallowed ground. Pad 34 is more like an old battlefield. It appears deceptively normal on the surface, but if you know the history, you understand the significance of the area.

If you don't know the history, perhaps this plaque might educate you:

As you get closer, the site's significance becomes apparent...

"ABANDON IN PLACE"...After the site's deteriorating steel superstructure was dismantled, the concrete foundations were left to remain forever as a silent memorial to the men of Apollo 1.

Don't forget.

h/t: to this website for the beautiful Pad 34 photos.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


An AFSOC AC-130 has conducted another strike in Somalia against some al-Q leadership. It's a global war.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What Your Air Force is Up To

I've got some more USAF-centric posts in the pipeline, so in preparation for that, I thought you might like to know what your Air Force and its allies have been up to in Southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa.

"1/23/2007 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNEWS) -- U.S. Central Command Air Forces officials have released the airpower summary for Jan. 23.

In Afghanistan Jan. 22, Air Force F-15 Eagles and a B-1B Lancer provided close-air support for International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, troops in contact with enemy forces near Carlson. The B-1B expended Guided Bomb Unit-38s and GBU-31s on enemy positions.

The Combined Force Air Component Commander goes through very strict procedures for approval prior to weapons expenditures and does all he can to avoid collateral damage. From using precision-guided weapons to preplanning air strikes and coordinating with ground commanders, the primary objective of the commander is to ensure targets are properly identified and Air Force warfighters are able to avoid any harm to civilians and their property.

Air Force F-15s provided close air support to ISAF troops in contact with enemy forces near Deh Rawod.

In total, 23 close-air-support missions were flown in support of ISAF and Afghan troops, reconstruction activities and route patrols.

Additionally, nine Air Force and Royal Air Force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, or ISR, aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Afghanistan .
In Iraq , U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons provided close-air support to troops in contact with anti-Iraqi forces near Baghdad and Al Taji.

RAF GR-4 Tornados provided close-air support to troops in contact with anti-Iraqi forces near Baghdad , Mamudiyah and Al Taji.

In total, coalition aircraft flew 44 close-air-support missions for Operation Iraqi Freedom. These missions included support to coalition troops, infrastructure protection, reconstruction activities and operations to deter and disrupt terrorist activities.

Additionally, 13 Air Force, Navy and RAF ISR aircraft flew missions in support of operations in Iraq . An Air Force fighter aircraft performed in a non-traditional ISR role with its electro-optical and infrared sensors.

Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and C-17 Globemaster IIIs provided intra-theater heavy airlift support, helping sustain operations throughout Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa. Nearly 140 airlift sorties were flown; approximately 360 tons of cargo was delivered, and approximately 2,850 passengers were transported. This included about 12,000 pounds of troop re-supply air-dropped in eastern Afghanistan .

Coalition C-130 crews from Australia and Canada flew in support of OIF or OEF.

On Jan. 21, Air Force and RAF tankers flew 29 sorties and off-loaded almost 1.6 million pounds of fuel."

A Bitch...Well, Two Actually

We watched a Frontline video today in my Comparative Politics class that discussed the run-up to the Iraq War. It was actually a bit more complicated than that, as the reason we watched it was to gain insights into modern British foreign policy. Of course, the biggest event in recent U.K. foreign policy has been the decision to go to war in Iraq alongside the U.S. Indeed, the repercussions of this event are still being felt today, primarily because of the fight for the soul of Britain's foreign policy: will it stand with the United States and the rest of the Anglosphere and our allies, or will it join in the Euro-centric French-German alliance? It is certainly an important question, one that will affect the course of international affairs for several decades.

You're probably wondering what all that has to the title of the post. A few things, in fact. First, there's nothing more that pisses me off than the acusation that the U.S. is engaging in a "unilateral" foreign policy simply because we did not directly involve the U.N. The video opened by appearing to be framing the debate as that the U.S. wanted to go into Iraq right after 9/11 (referencing "neo-conservative Paul Wolfowitz") and that the U.S. entered into Afghanistan unilaterally, setting the stage for an extremely aggressive foreign policy. Right, because, you know, I don't think the British, Canadians, Australians, Germans, French, Dutch, or Italians would have anything to say about that. And by no means is that even close to the complete initial coalition, much less the other countries who have since joined on to ISAF. I mentioned a while ago that I went to a talk on campus by a Col. Otero who was involved at CENTCOM with coalition building right after 9/11 in preparation for Afghanistan, and he mentioned that the constant accusation of "unilateral action" and the lack of credit given our coalition partners really pissed him off. Understandably so. (As an aside, I'll be posting a summary of that talk...sometime. Really.) The problem seems to be that our partners have let their military capability lapse so much that all some can contribute is a few transports and companies of troops...which we'll gladly take, of course, but that the media denigrates as "inconsequential." So what if all Canada could afford to give at the time was JTF-2? They certainly acquitted themselves well (breaking and re-breaking the kill distance for a long range sniper) and the Canadians have certainly stepped up to the plate as of late.

I really shouldn't have expected better of a PBS production, but as I'm about to expand upon, this was otherwise a well put together video. The beginning was just very weak, falling into the common media trap of "unilateral action" simply because the U.N. was not involved.

As the title indicates, there are two bitches to be had. The second is much more important to me in that it kind of hit close to an idea I've been kicking around in my head the past couple of weeks (more on that in a few days.) A couple of people I'm friends with are also in the class with me; both of them are staunch Republicans. They both felt the video was extremely biased. Since this is a bitch, I obviously disagree. I think the problem was in the perception of the video. The video was intended to show the world as seen through European eyes and why the perceived "unilateral" U.S. foreign policy is so terrifying to the Euro-centric among the Europeans and how this fits in to the battle I referenced above that is currently being fought for Britain's foreign policy direction. The video was not intended to portray things in a balanced point of view or to show the U.S. point of view. This is where the disconnect happened. I think that they were viewing this as a balanced video, missing the Euro-centric nature, and as such were understandably upset when most of the interviews were geared towards espousing a "French"/internationalist point of view. They certainly weren't the only ones, either. There was quite a bit of muttered comments during and after the video that certainly weren't congratulatory.

And that's where I have a problem. The people that had a problem with the video seemed to be of the mindset that any attack against the war was an attack against their politics, and by extension, their political party. Just because one is pro-victory does not mean that one is allowed to play politics with the war, just the same as being anti-war. If we really want to achieve victory in the long war, we HAVE to divorce politics from the conduct of the war. It has to be what's best for the country, not what's best for the party. More often than not, these paths diverge, and if you really care about your country you have to be willing to call your party on it. Too many people today, on both sides of the aisle, are not.

Quote of the Day

Finishing up another post right now, but am watching FNC's coverage of the State of the Union Address, and Brit Hume just said...

"...Nancy Pelosi has some people in her box..."

Sometimes crude innuendo is all you have to fall back on.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Quote of the Day

Comes from Lex.

Discussing Iran..."because while our nation building capacity is pretty much maxed out right now, our nation taking apart capacity is largely sitting idle."

Best Show on TV

Rebecca Cusey nails it:

"The enemy is relentless. Where they occupy and control, they enforce their unyielding rules mercilessly. Areas they don’t control, they infiltrate. They seduce our friends, bunk next to our families, and creep into our military. Taking advantage of the freedoms of an open society, they make themselves indistinguishable from us. We know that agents are in our midst, but we do not know who they are until they unleash their violent mission upon us. Fanatically dedicated to a strict monotheism which calls for the extermination of an entire race, they are committed to winning by any means necessary. Radical Islam? No, this is the plight of the rag-tag band of human survivors in the Sci-Fi Channel’s surprise hit Battlestar Galactica. The show starts up again after an agonizingly long break on Sunday, January 21.

Wrapped in traditional sci-fi fare of space ships, robots, and laser-beam battles, Battlestar Galactica transcends its genre to appeal to a galaxy far, far beyond sci-fi lovers. There are no aliens with odd hair-dos, half-naked astrobabes, geeky space “anomalies,” or sanitized utopian ideals. Instead, the show focuses on gritty humans desperate to survive disaster."

Like I said over at the Cdr's place, I'm no Navel (sic) Aviator (capital N, capital A), but I don't think I've seen a better portrayal of life on board a carrier or life in the military as a whole. In the 3 seasons they've covered almost every major military command issue. Stress of continuous ops, civilian control of the military, civilian/military relations, fraternization, training nuggets, loneliness of command, the calculus of how many to leave behind, the necessity of sacrifice, and so much more.

If you're at all interested in military culture and how those in the military view things, there is no better show on TV to get inside that mindset.

h/t: The Cdr.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

6 hours and counting!

Saturday, January 20, 2007


Friday, January 19, 2007


This is quite impressive. 101 impressions in under 4 minutes. And most of them are pretty good.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

USAF Message (again)

Earlier this month I wrote about the USAF message. To quote:

"If the USAF wants to be taken seriously as a military service, it needs to start by taking itself seriously. If it wants people to start respecting the sacrifices its personnel are making, it needs to start respecting itself. It needs to identify with its roots, not try and rebrand itself to chase after the flavor of the week according to some marketing guru. We're currently celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the USAF and the 100th Anniversary of the Airman. Let's take advantage of that and come up with an ad similar to the USMC's "Pride of the Nation." We've got 100 years of history to draw on, I think we can do something that will highlight the independence, importance, and relevance of the USAF."

Today for Leadlab we had Commander's Call. For the non-military among you, Commander's Call is a chance for the Commanding Officer of a unit to periodically gather the entire unit together and talk to them about whatever he wants to discuss. In the context of AFROTC it means that our Det CO gets up and says a few words about his philosophy, what he expects out of us this semester, and any rules/regs that he wants to emphasize. He started off by playing a video that debuted at the dedication of the Air Force Memorial in D.C. on 14 Oct of last year. As you watch, keep in mind what I said above about celebrating the history of the USAF.

Alright, first, the positives. Setting aside the music, the video is actually pretty awesome. It does more or less what I asked of the USAF. First, connect with our history. The early video of WWI was awesome, and I got chills during the cut at the beginning from the F-15 to the formation of old WWII era bombers. Second, show that the USAF is more than shiny fighter jets. I think every major area of the USAF was represented; EOD, AFSOC, Space and Missiles, maintenance, even logistics. Finally, show that the Air Force is sacrificing as well in this current war. The scene with the bugler, the girl receiving the folded flag, the missing man formation, and the honor guard rendering the traditional salute showed that very well.

Okay, so now for the negative. What was with that music? It reminded me of Michael Bolton. By the end, it has the feel of a goddamn Disney singalong. The poignant moment I mentioned above about sacrifice is set to cheesy synthesized strings. After that we get treated to a bit of gospel. Why? Beyond me. Finally, the lyrics. "Those were the days when anything could happen" set to a shot of a B-24 getting its wing blown off in flames. Who wrote this abomination? 13 men just died and you're singing a song about how "anything could happen." Fantastic. You know, the one common factor through most of the Air Force commercials that I have a beef with seems to be their poor choice of music. A lot of the other cadets I talked to indicated that they felt the same way about the music. The visuals in the video were sweet, and it starts out well, but then degenerates into the Disney crapfest.

I give this commercial a B for effort, but a D for overall effect. The craptacular music is just too overpowering. For some suggestions on how to do music right, go here and here. The other services seem to know how to get it right, why can't we?

In the larger marketing picture, to my knowledge this video has not been disseminated to the public at large. That really is the problem. Until this video has been divided into smaller segments and aired in the manner of the Marine PSA, it's not serving the purpose I laid out in the quote at the top of this post.

Better, but not good enough.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Still Think This Isn't a War?

Then check this out.

Like I've said before, "Forgotten in this insane rush for equality and politeness is the cold fact that some creeds and ideas are better than others, and that some ideals are worth fighting to defend, and others are worth fighting to destroy."

I come down on the side that things like marrying 9 year old girls and throwing homosexuals off a mountain are worth fighting to destroy, but that's just me.

h/t: Chap

Friday, January 12, 2007

Thoughts on "Dereliction of Duty"

As I stated in a previous post, I got 4 books for Christmas. I'm currently working on Guests of the Ayatollah (about 50 pages left). I got done with Col. H.R. McMaster's Dereliction of Duty last week. It's about the period of time from 1961 to 1965 in relation to the country's deepening involvement in Vietnam. It focuses on the relationships between JFK, LBJ, Robert McNamara, some of their senior aides, and the various flag officers who were involved in some aspect with the Joint Chiefs of Staff during this time period.

This book was a fascinating read. It really reshapes the conventional view of the Vietnam War, for as the book says, "The war in Vietnam was not lost in the field, nor was it lost on the front pages of the New York Times or on the college campuses. It was lost in Washington, D.C. even before Americans assumed sole responsibility for the fighting in 1965 and before they realized their country was at war; indeed, even before the first American units were deployed." It takes a true scholar (like Col. McMaster) to unearth the truth behind the various myths that have been put forth about the American defeat in Vietnam. The truth is that the lies by LBJ and McNamara and the fact that the JCS went along with those lies, abdicating their Constitutional responsibility in the process, set the U.S. up for defeat long before U.S. combat forces had been committed.

To dig a bit deeper, one finds that the reasons for the lies were primarily personal, with a secondary political interest. LBJ was an inherently weak man, someone who craved consensus among his staff and, to put it bluntly, was someone seemingly incapable of making tough decisions. This desire for consensus resulted in a group-think atmosphere in the Administration, where there was no real opposition force within the Administration. Congress and the Joint Chiefs were another matter, but I'll get to those in a second. The fact that McNamara was one cocky son of a bitch (especially after his "masterful" handling of the Cuban Missile Crisis) simply added to the problem by creating a senior policy maker who did not feel the need to listen to anyone who didn't support his views.

You might be wondering where the Joint Chiefs fit in all of this. They are, after all, by law supposed to provide military analysis and advice to the Commander in Chief. They failed miserably at this task. In order to find the root, one has to go back to the Kennedy Administration, whose position regarding the military was that they were a bunch of dumb, uneducated warmongers and that they, the New Frontiersmen, would be able to use their vastly superior education to run things. (I exaggerate somewhat, of course, but the points are valid.) This point of view is only further validated by the Administration's conduct during the Cuban Missile Crisis, where they were successfully able to avert a military showdown by micromanaging the use of military force. McNamara and his aides continued this policy after LBJ became President. The end-game of this sort of a policy is that you either have to co-opt the JCS to your side, or you have to gradually cut them out of the decision making. LBJ's Administration did both. He used his personal charisma to sway the JCS somewhat over to his side and then McNamara, with his blessing, proceeded to cut the JCS out of communications regarding various Vietnam strategy changes. It eventually got to the point where McNamara would simply ignore JCS memos and refuse to pass them on to the President.

At the point the Joint Chiefs found out about McNamara's failure to pass their views on to the President, they had two options: either resign in protest and go public with the lies, or continue to try and work from the inside to change things. They decided to remain inside and work to change until the bitter end. While a decision to remain inside could possibly be justified in the first couple instances of McNamara's ignoring, there is no way their decision could be justified once there was an established pattern of their advice being ignored.

Of course, this dereliction of duty on the part of the JCS begs the question, why? We'll have to backtrack a bit, for first we have to understand just how detrimental their going public would have been for LBJ's Administration. At the time, LBJ was trying to push through his Great Society legislation and needed to keep Congress pacified in order to get this legislation passed; in his mind, the Great Society was more important than Vietnam. (The '64 elections also play a part here.) The bottom line is that by 1964, there is an established pattern of LBJ and his Administration blatantly lying to Congress and to the American people on the subject of Vietnam. As has happened many times before, once they started telling lies the Administration got in so deep they had to tell lies to help cover their initial lies.

So why did the JCS go along with this? There are a variety of reasons, but one of the foremost is that they had fallen under LBJ's charisma. They were set up for this by Gen. Maxwell Taylor, who advised them to always view things from the President's point of view when offering advice. This led to an empathy with the President that was entirely inappropriate given the relationship the JCS and the President are supposed to have. When this was coupled to LBJ's pep talks of the Chiefs being "his team" and him being "the coach," it is almost inevitable that the Chiefs would feel a strong loyalty to the President. This loyalty, combined with lies from McNamara that he was passing their advice up the chain when he was in fact not doing so, led to the Chiefs failing to act until they possessed hard evidence of the Administration's lies. As I said above, instead of acting, they chose to remain on the inside and try and change things, but to no avail. They chose the path of least resistance and ended up helping cause a national scar that took decades to fully erase.

I'm sure I'll be working on this idea in coming days, but it seems to me that there might be some parallels to be drawn between this history and the recent "surge" plan. I'm not quite sure what, exactly, because I haven't had a chance to dig as deeply into the opinions of various generals, but I have heard a couple rather disquieting things regarding possible substantial discrepancies between those opinions and the working plan. Like I said, nothing concrete enough to write about yet, but I'll be exploring it in the coming days, time permitting.

Anyway, Dereliction of Duty is a fascinating book about high level policy and how very personal factors can had a large effect on that policy. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to really understand what happened and why in Vietnam.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Random Quote

"The negroes took our dates!"

USAF Intel

Came across a nice feature on Intel through the Air Force News email that I get. Since that's the field I want to go into, thought I'd share it.


Yet another case of life imitating a movie...

"Scorpion stings Vermont man on airplane."

Monday, January 08, 2007

Tangos Down

An AFSOC AC-130 killed some terrorists in Somalia. We'll take all we can get.

UPDATE: Nice snark, via Chap: "NObody expects an AC-130 gunship!"

YouTube fun

Youse gots people in ya iPod..

Dick in a Box!

F**kin' Mediacom!!

So for the past couple of months, Sinclair Broadcasting and Mediacom Cable company have been involved in a pissing match over whether or not Mediacom should pay Sinclair in order to carry their stations. It's a long twisted story, but I don't really care about that. Time has finally ran out, and we no longer get the Fox affiliate here in Ames.

Since these two couldn't figure out how to play nice with each other, I either have to go get rabbit ears or not get the national championship game, half of the NFL playoffs, the Super Bowl, and 24. Yes, since these bastards can't get things figured out, I might just miss out on Jack Bauer returning from China to kick the crap out of some terrorists.

Mediacom/Sinclair, you're on notice.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Speaking of being rich...

So, guys were playing poker tonight. $5 buy in, nothing too extreme. I don't win in the tournament, but then we play cash games afterwards. We start off with a game called shit on your neighbor. It involves making three stacks of 5 chips (a $1.50, we play with 10 cent chips.) You are then dealt one card, face down. Starting with the player to the left of the dealer, you decide whether you want to stay, or exchange with the player on your left. Lowest cards loses, and the dealer has the option of staying or hitting his deck. Pretty fun game that we usually play at the end of the night, but were playing it now because a couple of our regulars had to take off early. Long story short, I end up winning on a Queen when both of the other players still in sit on 10s. Both of them. Sweet, so I win $10.50. Nice. We then proceed to play cash games, which get out of hand real fast. (Disclaimer: keep in mind that we all have this kind of money to lose and none of us have a problem...really.)

So we start playing several games that involve rather large pots...3-5-7, 55, stuff like that. Another long story short, we end up with a couple of pots that total around $10. Yeah, $10 on one cash game. The conclusion is that I end up winning either $30 on the night in cash games.

So I'm pretty happy right now.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I wish I was this rich... bet $50,000 that I could stand in the ocean for 18 hours. There is truly some crazy stuff found at that article. I gamble, but I only play poker, which is a game of at least some skill (although with the less-experienced guys we sometimes play with, that's not always the case...I can't count the numbers of times someone has screamed "WHY DIDN'T YOU FOLD THAT!?!?!?" Not that I was ever the one playing a 5-9, I was a seasoned veteran from day 1. :-p) Anyway, point being that I don't see how someone could put that sum of money on that kind of a bet...and then win almost half of it back playing $2,000 a game 9-ball.

But then again, I guess if my total tournament winnings exceeded $3,400,000, $50,000 would be chump change. Like I said, I wish I was that rich.

Plane STILL Missing

Is there perhaps an "Indonesian Triangle"? 5 days out and the plane is still missing. Just a reminder that for all our high-tech GPS "I know where I am within 6 feet ANYWHERE" technology, there are still some pretty wild places in the world and aviation is still an inherently challenging and dangerous business.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Next Grant/Ridgeway/Abrams?

VDH asks that question in a recent column. He also makes good points about the supposed "brokenness" of our military. (Spoiler: It's not broken! However, it might very well be in 15 years. But that's a story for another post.) VDH closes the column by asking the question in the title of this post:

"At some point it would be stunning for a US military official to step forward, and assure victory. No more acrimony over what should have, could have or might have been. No more retired generals talking to reporters at midnight “off the record”, or appearing as “unnamed senior military official” in the footnotes of the latest journalistic expose about Iraq. No more complaints about had Paul Bremmer not, had Donald Rumsfeld not, had Tommy Franks not, but rather something instead like: “Here is how we are going to defeat the jihadists”.

Most Americans do not want to hear any more suggestions from the Iraqi Study Group, anymore meae culpae from John Kerry or Hillary Clinton about how they were brainwashed by faulty intelligence, or any more assessments of the war from moralists and geniuses like Donald Trump and Bill Maher.

Instead, we need to hear from the very top echelon of the American military, that despite all the roadblocks put in their way, and the difficulty of the present task (it isn’t easy to secure a democracy in the heart of the ancient caliphate surrounded by Khomeinist Iran, Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, and Baathist Syria), that they will defeat these insurgents—and here’s how they plan to do it.

Somewhere in the US military right now is a Grant, Sherman, Patton, Ridgeway, or Abrams, who has been shouting and we haven’t been listening. Now is the time to let them come forward—as they have always arisen from obscurity in past American wars when their nation’s hour of need has come."

I'd like to nominate someone for that position: Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, President Bush's choice for the next commander of MNF-Iraq to replace Gen. George Casey. Lt. Gen. Petraeus GETS it. He commanded the 101st in Mosul from the invasion until mid-2004, he was responsible for getting Iraqi security forces up and running, and he was the leader behind the Army-Marine Corps new COIN manual. He's one of the best COIN oriented flag officers. To put it bluntly, he knows his shit. This is definitely a good choice by the President, who has been rather hit and miss when it comes to choosing senior leadership in the military. (A naval aviator in charge of CENTCOM? We'll see, I guess.) But Lt. Gen. Petraeus is a great choice for Iraq and I look forward to seeing what he's got for modifications to the strategy.

Some background on Lt. Gen. Petraeus here, here, here, and here.

Kim Jong-Il and the Norks

The government of North Korea spends 38.5% of its annual budget on indoctrination and ideology activities designed to perpetuate the cult of personality that they have built around Kim Jong-Il. Really interesting article about it here. Read the whole thing, as there's enough crazy stuff that goes on in that country to keep an anthropologist busy for an entire career.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

More Security Problems

Tying in with yesterday's post about security problems, the Energy Secretary has dismissed the chief of the nation's nuclear weapons programs for security lapses. Don't really know why it's so hard to lock down Los Alamos, but we've had problems with it for awhile. It'd be nice to get someone down there who knows what the hell they're doing.

USAF Message

As I've discussed before, there's been a major push among the Air Force leadership to get the USAF's message to the public. They started this in house, encouraging Airmen to embrace that role, either through not being afraid to educate those less knowledgeable about the contributions the Air Force makes to the national defense, or by something as simple as actually calling each other "Airmen." Now the leadership have taken the show on the road, contemplating ways to improve our "strategic communications."

This is nothing new, as the Air Force has always had something of an identity crisis. It's the most junior of the services, and it has always striven for ways to distance itself from the shadows of the other services. It accomplished this goal in its heyday in the '50s, with intercontinental bombing being the linchpin of national defense, but has fallen since then to be the force everyone takes for granted. It underwent a brief resurgence in the early nineties, after kicking the crap out of what was a well-equipped Iraqi military, but made it look so easy everyone took it for granted. Now it's only a news story when the USAF fails to deliver supplies on time, or screws up a CAS mission (one of the tens it performs every hour of every day.)

As I said in my previous post, this is all about money. Too many people in this country take the USAF for granted; their only real view of the Air Force is flashy fighter jets and other stuff that has no (in their eyes) real world application to our current conflicts. Because of this, our political masters are able to get away with gutting the force.

How to recitfy the situation? It's obvious the senior leadership is taking a marketing approach to the entire deal, even going so far as to discuss the Air Force "brand." The Do Something Amazing website is a good start, as it helps show under-reported sides of the Air Force. Unfortunately, the only TV spots I've seen from this campaign are ones that feature the stereotypical sides of the Air Force: the Thunderbirds and launching rockets. Putting stuff on the internet is good for recruiting, but it doesn't help the public face of the service much. TV ads are really where you're going to get that brand recognition.

This brings me to my suggestion for a partial solution. It's obviously not the only part, and it is probably a rather small portion. However, I think the "Do Something Amazing" campaign faces a larger issue. The USAF is a military organization. We wear uniforms, we have a military culture, we are prepared to face death on a regular basis in the service of our country. If this is true, why the hell is our advertising slogan "Do Something Amazing"? The slogan seems more appropriate for a university or a sports team, not a military service whose primary mission is blowing stuff up and killing people.

I'm going to take a quick pause and offer up five military ads for comparison:

1) USMC "Semper Fi"

2) USMC "Pride of the Nation"

3) USA "Army Strong"

4) USAF "Our People"

5) USAF "Lullaby"

Now, you tell me which of those ads fired up your martial side and got you thinking something along the lines of "wow, that's a really dedicated, professional group of people...I'm glad we have hard-asses like them out on the line to defend us"?

If the USAF wants to be taken seriously as a military service, it needs to start by taking itself seriously. If it wants people to start respecting the sacrifices its personnel are making, it needs to start respecting itself. It needs to identify with its roots, not try and rebrand itself to chase after the flavor of the week according to some marketing guru. We're currently celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the USAF and the 100th Anniversary of the Airman. Let's take advantage of that and come up with an ad similar to the USMC's "Pride of the Nation." We've got 100 years of history to draw on, I think we can do something that will highlight the independence, importance, and relevance of the USAF.

Of course, I'm going to contradict everything I just said with this last video, but we're discussing USAF ad campaigns, and I never miss a chance to post this video...

New AFA Mag

Couple of interesting articles in the Jan issue of the AFA magazine. First one is something that SJS will appreciate. A brief history of airborne early warning and associated control systems. Next is some pretty cool plane pron, featuring the two newly activated aggressor squadrons out at Nellis. Lots of gorgeous shots of Eagles and Vipers in the really cool Flanker Blue and Lizard aggressor paint schemes.

Third is a well written editorial discussing a report I had never heard about: the "Committee Defense Review" released by Rep. Duncan Hunter and the rest of the GOP members of the House Armed Services Committee (Dem members didn't sign; read the editorial for the whole story). I'll be discussing this topic more in coming weeks, as it's been on my mind recently, but the bottom line is that the U.S. doesn't have a big enough military. The country is robbing peter to pay paul, and it's going to come back to bite us in the ass. We (we being the USAF and the USN) have been saying this for awhile, but no one's willing to listen to us because they don't want to hear the cold truth: despite all the talk of transformation, all the talk of counter-insurgencies and low-intensity warfare, the Army and Marines don't go anywhere without the USAF and the USN. They don't get air support without the USAF and the USN. They don't have shit for supplies without the USAF and the USN. We hear talk of how the Army is broken, and how we need to expand the Marines, but there is no outcry for the Air Force tankers that are so old a grandson of the original pilots could fly them, or of the grounding of a sizeable portion of our tactical airlift fleet, or of the Navy's Little Crappy Ship, and the associated lack of any sort of credible anti-mine or anti-sub capability.

I'm getting ahead of myself, because like I said, I'll be addressing the topic in the future. Suffice to say that the CDR will be getting a chunk of my attention.

Finally, just because I know the Navy pogues will give me crap if I don't include it, yes, there was an article about a *gag* NAVY *gag* fighter in the issue as well...and yes, it's made by Grumman. As seems to be just about everything the Navy has ever flown, Lex's loveable plastic bug notwithstanding.

UPDATE: Almost forgot this extremely cool article on the future of UAVs in the USAF. It's been said before, but we really are rapidly approaching the point at which all piloting will be done in a chair on the ground; the F-35, honestly, will be the last manned fighter we procure. Oh, and the last (manned) fighter pilot has already been born. The next front is an unmanned bomber; I'd give 50/50 odds that the 2018 bomber is unmanned.

Spy vs Spy

I think the CDR might be interested in this..."Foreign spying on U.S. defense technology seen rising." According to a "circulated" (read: leaked) report, DSS Counterintel Office reported a nearly 43 percent jump in suspicious foreign contacts reported by U.S. defense contractors. Of particular interest was to me was the fact that good ol' fashioned HUMINT is still well and alive, even in this high tech age. One of the reported contacts was the seduction of an American translator by a foreign female spy in order to gain his computer password. His network was later found infested with viruses planted by a foreign intelligence service.

Which foreign countries are attempting to steal our secrets? The report doesn't name names, but as always, China, Russia, and Iran are at the head of any list.

China: they might not be our enemy (yet), but they certainly aren't our friend.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Apropos of Nothing...

Came across this spot while looking for modern day USAF ads as part of an upcoming post; made me laugh considerably. Looks like something Lileks might be interested in.

Of course, the I'm sure the fighter mafia was upset about the complete exclusion of any fighter from the ad, but hey, the bombers had nukes. End of story.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Nice Tribute

Came across this on the interwebs. Nice tribute to 30 Marines and 1 Corpsman that lost their lives in a helicopter crash back in 2005. Check it out.