Monday, February 26, 2007

The Gays are Beating the Russians...

Just watch:


Britain expands NATO commitment

"LONDON - Britain's defense secretary on Monday announced the deployment of 1,400 extra troops to Afghanistan, bolstering NATO's mission to oust the resurgent Taliban only days after Prime Minister Tony Blair disclosed plans to trim British forces in Iraq."

Good and bad news in this. Good news: between this and the (tentative) Australian commitment, it looks like ISAF is going to get the troops it needs to help head off the expected standard Spring offensive by the Taliban. Bad news: like I've said previously, it seems that the same nations keep sending more troops to southern and eastern Afghanistan. There were some strong words from British Defense Secretary Des Browne:

"It is increasingly clear, that at present, when it comes to the most demanding tasks in the most challenging parts of Afghanistan, only a small number of key allies are prepared to step forward."


Browne acknowledged Britain, the United States and others were "shouldering a greater burden than we like" in leading the alliance's mission to tackle Taliban fighters and extend the reach of President Hamid Karzai's Kabul government.

But he told lawmakers that failing to deploy additional combat troops posed "too great a risk to progress achieved" so far by the mission."

Also some strong words from the Opposition side of things:

Opposition Conservative lawmaker Liam Fox said the failure of several NATO countries to match the commitment shown by Britain, the United States, Canada and the Netherlands, called the future of the alliance into question.

"If NATO is to exist and flourish in the future, this is not a tenable position," Fox told lawmakers during the session.

Not a tenable position indeed. What makes all this particularly galling is that it looks like Britain's new commitment will be used as a battalion sized QRF, so they will definitely be seeing a lot of action. And Australia's pending contribution? A large chunk will be SAS.

I think the conference in Seville earlier this month is going to be a watershed point in the history of NATO. The anger among the Americans, Canadians, British, and others with troops in harms way has been building, and the meeting at Seville was what might very well be the breaking point. Post Cold War NATO has always been rather tense at times (as anyone who has done a joint tour in Europe will attest to), but the squabbles over Allied Force, IFOR/SFOR, and KFOR in the Balkans are nothing compared to this. This is the first time (excepting France's unilateral withdrawal under de Gaulle, which doesn't really count) that a NATO member has simply flat out refused to allow its troops to fight in a NATO sanctioned action.

Simply unacceptable. This isn't a namby-pamby club like the EU. Either you're in NATO to fight, or you need to get the hell out.

Previous posts here and here.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Be Prepared

“Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise.”

-Sir Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts (emphasis mine)

First, story time. I had a bit of an interesting experience on Thursday night. I walked into a dorm on campus that night to study with a friend, turned the corner, and saw a female lying unconscious face up on the floor with a rather large pool of blood behind her head. Which isn't exactly something you see every day.

Took a few seconds to get my brain up to speed on what exactly was going on; in the space of half an hour I'd gone from eating some wings with the guys to being faced with a potentially life-threatening situation. It wasn't, fortunately, but I'm getting ahead of myself. So after I get up to speed, I double checked to make sure that my friend had called 911 (she had.) Think for a split second that I really wish I had some latex gloves right now. Push that thought out of my head and get down on the floor, lift her head up slightly and feel around to try and determine the extent of the bleeding, while asking a bystander to go get me some paper towels or something to stop the bleeding, and trying to get the now semi-conscious girl's (whose name I found in a few seconds was Jennifer) friend to calm down before she puts Jennifer into shock.

Fortunately, the bleeding wasn't nearly as extensive as I had originally thought; the way Jennifer had fallen the blood had splattered outward considerably. My first thought was that it looked like someone had hit her a few times on the back of the head with a baseball bat. The paper towels get there, so I stick a few on the back of her head and apply pressure where I can tell it's bleeding. By this time (only about a minute after arriving there), Jennifer has fully woken up, so now I had to worry about keeping her calm, which was not small task because she was underage and had been drinking. Heavily. Fortunately, by this time her friend had calmed down and was talking with her, which helped out considerably.

Of course, since I was using paper towels (not the best choice) they soaked through rather quickly, so I had to keep layering them on. As a bit of a funny aside, somebody who lived there had grabbed a first aid kit (good) and was handing me gauze squares. Unfortunately, the squares were only about an inch by an inch (bad). I just ask him, calmly, if he had anything bigger (he didn't.) But inside I'm thinking, "Jesus Christ, don't you see my hands/arms and the floor?!? I don't think this tiny piece of gauze is going to do much!!"

In any case, like I said earlier, I wasn't particularly worried about the bleeding once I got a feel for the wound, so I was far more worried about keeping Jennifer from going into shock. I mainly focused on keeping her aware and calm (I know, kind of a duh thing to say, but it's harder than it sounds when you're doing it for real. Which is the point of this post. Which I'm getting to.) Anyway, just basically kept asking her simple questions and making conversation. By 4-5 minutes after I had arrived, an ISU PD officer had shown up, and within another couple of minutes the EMTs had gotten there, at which point I went to the bathroom to spend another 5 minutes washing the blood off my hands. Head wounds bleed. A lot.

So I said I had a point. The point is best summed up in the Baden-Powell quote at the top of the page. If you are truly going to be prepared, you can't just go through the training. Training is important, yes, and if you don't at least know basic first aid skills and CPR, you should take a course or two. But training alone won't get you through a situation. There were at least two bystanders that I know knew what to do. But they didn't, at least not initially. I did. I'm not going to try and play this up to be some huge deal; it's not. Obviously, it wasn't much of a life threatening situation. But I only found that out after I got my hands bloody and investigated to find out just how bad things were. If, say, it had been an arterial wound instead of a head wound, and say I had froze up for another 20 seconds, or I hadn't been there and the bystanders I mentioned above had frozen up for that 20 seconds, that could be the difference between life and death. You have to run through things in your head before hand, play out scenarios, so you know exactly how you are going to react and don't have to think about it. If you are taken by surprise, you will freeze up for that 20 seconds (or more), and as I've shown, that can be the difference between life and death.

It is a process that never stops, either. You always need to be reevaluating and rethinking things. For example, with this most recent case, I've thought about a couple of things. First, I'm going to start carrying a pair of latex gloves on me, so I'm never put in the uncomfortable situation of getting someone else's blood all over my hands. Also, I needed to do a better job of taking charge of the situation. The friend was introducing too much stress into the situation; I should have just asked someone to take care of her and get her calmed down instead of trying to do it myself. Finally, I found that I needed to be better prepared to make small talk with the victim. I didn't take the opportunity to find out anything more about what exactly happened, and I was finding that I was having to force myself to talk to her, which shouldn't happen. Like I said, always something to learn.

This isn't just something to do with basic first aid, either. All sorts of contingencies need to be planned for. LW over at Blackfive's place has done a good job over the past week detailing disaster preparedness, an area I'll be the first to admit I am piss-poor prepared for. Here's a summary. Just a quick, by no means comprehensive list of things I've thought about: natural disaster (tornadoes/T-storms being the biggest threat where I live, although flooding depending on the topography), a large scale terrorist attack, fire, mugging attempt, car crash (both being involved in one and coming across one), heart attack, shooting incident, leg injury with myself (how do I get help if I'm alone and can't walk)...the list could go on and on. The point is that you need to always be actively thinking about and preparing for these incidents so you are able to act and respond effectively.

And just so we're clear, hitting 70 doesn't clear you from responsibility for this. Those senior citizens seemed to be pretty prepared to act and defend themselves appropriately. Are you?

I'll let RAH have the last word:

"A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."
-Lazarus Long, Time Enough For Love

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Venezuela is a friendly nation

So says Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.).

Yup, having a President who declares himself dictator and calls our President "the devil" is really a friendly nation.

Even better, Rep. Jackson Lee wants to lift our embargo on F-16 parts. I'm speechless.

She did have one good point, though: "But she added that her fact-finding mission to Venezuela was part of an effort by a new Democrat-controlled Congress to show that "Venezuela has many friends in this new Congress."

"We're here to re-establish friendship," she said."

I don't doubt that, which is why I'm a little scared.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Good on ya

"Australia looks to increase forces in Afghanistan."

It's not exactly Obama's 20,000, but it looks like the Anglosphere is going to come through for NATO again. I've said it before. Some are willing to fight:

Some aren't:

The time is rapidly approaching when sides will be chosen and the the freeloaders will be forced to make a decision.

RF-4C Coming to Strategic Air & Space Museum

This is cool:

"In 100 days, they raised $51,500, more than enough to move one of the jets from a military base in Ohio to the Strategic Air and Space Museum near Ashland, said Col. Rick Evans, commander of the Nebraska Air Guard's 170th Operations Support Squadron at Offutt Air Force Base. Evans, who lives in Lincoln, flew RF-4Cs from 1985 to 1993.

“We're pretty happy,” he said. “It's such a big part of our unit's history.”"

Getting a Phantom in the Museum will be sweet. Getting the RF-4C, which ties in with the NEANG, is even sweeter. The museum is well stocked with larger aircraft (about the only SAC aircraft it's missing is a KC-135, perhaps a KC-10) but needs a bit of work with smaller SAC and TAC aircraft. The Phantom will help; if they could get a Super Sabre they'd be pretty close to set. MAC aircraft would be nice, but those aren't nearly as sexy as SAC or TAC.

In any case, this is awesome news.

H/T: Alert 5


Sorry about the lack of posting; been busy with a lot of small relatively non-important things that have all conspired to suck my time up.

Anyway, just thought I'd share this news story I noticed yesterday (my dad will definitely appreciate it.)

"IN THE WESTERN DESERT, Egypt - Three ultra-endurance athletes have just done something most would consider insane: They ran the equivalent of two marathons a day for 111 days to become the first modern runners to cross the Sahara Desert's grueling 4,000 miles."

Wow. I don't think impressive even starts to cover that. According to the article, they ran between 44-50 miles a day. For 111 days straight.

Like I said, BAMF.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Ramadi, Cash, and Currahee

Like Chap says, this video breaks the stereotype of deployment videos being death metal and hair bands. Really solid work.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


In honor of Muqtada al-Sadr...

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Stick a Fork in NATO?

"NATO seeks more troops in Afghanistan."

Hmm...where have I heard this before? Ah, that's right. "No new commitments for NATO Afghan force." 5 months later and NATO STILL doesn't have adequate amounts of forces in-country. We have tough talk from German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "In Afghanistan our alliance is being particularly tested. It is indisputable that the Taliban are testing our determination."

And in the case of your country, has found that determination wanting. If the battle is so important, perhaps you could find it within your national will to deploy your troops where they might actually be shot at. Same goes for you, Spain, France, and Italy. Either you are part of NATO, or you aren't. Right now NATO is involved in a war. You can stand and fight, or you can get the hell out and be revealed for the cowards you are. If nothing is done, Canada very well might leave. And understandably so. 46 of her young men and women have died to bring freedom and stability to the people of Afghanistan while some of their erstwhile allies have stood by and watched from the relative sidelines of the north.

NATO is a military alliance with a goal of collective security for all members. If some members aren't willing to contribute to that security, they need to be asked to leave.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Obama and the Aussies

First, I find it appalling that the first major criticism of Barack Obama has come from a foreigner. The man really has no solid ideas, at least on foreign policy. The cornerstone of his foreign policy seems to be "withdraw immediately from Iraq." The CDR summed up how I feel about that in a comment over at his place:

"If I heard any logical argument how us leaving Iraq would make it better, I would join in yesterday, as would 98% of the professionals I work with. The cold hard truth is that if we leave it will get worse by an order of magnitude - and our nation's security would suffer immeasurable damage for decades and more.

That is the reality I live with every day."

I couldn't agree more.

More importantly, nothing pisses me off more than those who denigrate the contributions of our Coalition partners, especially a partner as staunch and steadfast as Australia. The sad fact is that no nation on Earth has the capabilities of the U.S. military. Australia has contributed as many troops as it feels it can. Something often overlooked is that Australia (and to a lesser extent, New Zealand) has several not insignificant military commitments in its sphere of influence in the southwest Pacific. But I wouldn't expect a petty politician like Obama to understand the military realities of the situation.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Good Stuff from AFA

Couple of good features in the AFA mag's most recent issue. First, a good article on TF 1041, a group of 200 or so Security Forces Airmen who, back in 2005, made it their mission to secure Balad AB from the Rocket Man. This was the first instance of USAF SF taking offensive action since the Vietnam War. A good read, and interesting to ponder what it means for force protection in our increasingly joint environment.

Next, an awesome color photo spread (pdf warning) of bombers over Korea. They did a similar feature a few months ago on the Sabre, and this one is no less impressive.

Finally, an instructive chart that really shows where our national priorities have gone. Take defense spending as a percent of the GDP and set it next to entitlement spending as a percent of the GDP. While the results might not surprise you, they do provide a sad commentary on where this country is headed.

The Immelmann Turn

Doing some YouTubin' earlier in the weekend and happened across this compilation of plane crash videos; what really got me was the audio. It's a very cool song.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Swiss Pilots

...are badasses.

For that matter, so are the French. Well, French tanker pilots, anyway.

Okay, I guess all their pilots are badasses.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Iran at War

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei announced today that if the U.S. attacks Iran, Iran will respond to the attacks by striking U.S. interests around the world. This is not an idle threat. As I've discussed before, Iran is quite capable of carrying out said strikes. Something to remember is that Iran controlled Hezbollah was, prior to 9/11, responsible for more U.S. deaths than any other terrorist group. Iran has a long history of conducting foreign terror strikes.

This news is particularly troubling in light of the Administration's continued refusal to take Iran's actions seriously. As Joe Katzman says at the previous link:

"I see. The Iranians run weapons to the Sunnis and Shi'ites, send personnel in country, and make every effort to kill US soldiers. But American leadership wouldn't want to expose this because (A) the guy who keeps threatening to incinerate Israel and destroy America might react badly, and (B) people would ask us why we aren't doing anything about it, like f'rinstance why we've been releasing Iranians when we capture them in Iraq, so they can go kill more American soldiers. That might make us look bad, or force us to make hard decisions. Better to keep quiet.

Betrayal is not too strong a word to describe this."

Indeed. He goes on to talk about how duty and loyalty is a two way street. Read the whole thing. American soldiers are more than willing to put their lives on the line for us every day. All they ask in return is that their political leaders give them the top cover to be able to do their job to the fullest. With Iran, the political leaders have denied the soldiers this top cover for 30 years. They kidnap our diplomats. We do nothing. They bomb our embassy. We do nothing. They bomb our barracks (twice). Still, nothing. They provide advanced weapons for the insurgency in Iraq, enabling the insurgents to become much more effective and kill larger numbers of U.S. troops. Nothing.

This is unacceptable. Those that kill U.S. soldiers and citizens, especially in as large of numbers as Iran's government has done, must be held accountable.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Barack Obama is articulate.


President Bush is not articulate.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Couple of USAF Thoughts

Posting a link dump from stuff that has accumulated over the past week or so that I haven't blogged about yet...

First up is a Reuters piece that quotes Gen. Keys, the commander of ACC, as stating that the F-22 is ready for combat. The Raptor has another large milestone when it takes off on it's first overseas deployment later this month to Kadena AB. (Apropos of nothing, a guy I know from high school is with the 1st of the 1st ADA Patriot unit that the article mentions.)

Couple of comments about the Reuters piece. First, it makes mention that in its first operational exercise in Alaska last May, the Raptor successfully dropped "laser guided Joint Direct Attack Munitions at sonic and supersonic speeds." A) the JDAM isn't laser guided; it uses GPS guidance. B) There is no such thing as "sonic" speed. There are three (for the Raptor's purposes) flight regimes: subsonic (below Mach 0.8 or so), transonic (between Mach 0.8-1.2), and supersonic (beyond Mach 1.2). It seems trivial, but I don't think it's too much to ask that a major media organization gets these simple facts correct.

Second, the end of the article makes reference to the continuing controversy over the number of F-22s the service wants to buy. It is a theme that is repeated in some of the other pieces I'm going to link to. The USAF says that it needs 381 Raptors, but can only afford 183, less than half of the required number. This seems to go back to what the good CDR and some of the other Navy guys have talked about regarding the necessity of leaders to make hard decisions. Either the service needs 381 Raptors, or it doesn't. If it doesn't, why keep throwing the 381 number out? God knows we need the money elsewhere. More importantly, if it does really need 381, then why is the service settling for less than half of the required number?

Keeping with the budgeting theme, the USAF proposed a $110 billion budget, but is planning on chasing after getting another $20 billion from Congress. That's $20 billion extra per year until 2028, or so. According to one anonymous senior official, the service is "30 degrees nose low and in a 90 degree bank." I'd say that's about right. We're letting every ninth airman go, slashing flight-training hours by 10%, and cutting the logistics center funding from 85% of capacity to 77%. Both the KC-X and CSAR-X programs are still mired in controversy and the number of KC-Xs and F-35s bought per year has been cut. The IOC date for the imaginary long-range bomber has been pushed back by 6 months; something tells me that's not the last time we'll be seeing that date be pushed back.

This. Is. How. You. Break. A. Force.

Before you start going off on how the nation has only been at war for 6 years or so, the Air Force has been engaged for over 16 years. To really hammer home the breaking theme, compared to the Cold War, today's Air Force is doing 10 times the work with half the people. At any given time, 53% of all Airmen are committed to a combat commander, more than than any other service. "In-lieu of" (ILO) taskings are sucking airmen into the big green machine for no real purpose other than to temporarily help plug holes in the Army's force structure.

It's not like our enemies are catching up or anything.

The solution is rather simple. It doesn't require a paradigm shift or a complete change in focus. We need to get back to our roots. Air and Space Power. Quit with these ridiculous ILO taskings; tell the Army to shove it and increase their own budget. Our Airmen have more important things to be doing (things they're actually TRAINED for.) The leadership needs to stand up and make some tough decisions. If the decision necessitates going to Congress and banging a shoe on the table to get the message across that the current funding levels are unacceptable, so be it. This current vacillation of "well, we'd really like 381, but I guess 183 will cut it...I guess" is unacceptable. Figure out how many of what we need when, and then go to Congress and get it.

If none of the above convinced you how big of a hit the USAF has taken since the end of the Cold War, perhaps this will. Money 'graph:

"Air Force pilots have a favorite story they tell that captures the meltdown of American air power over the past 20 years. Brig. Gen. David Deptula was flying his F-15 over northern Iraq in 1999 when cockpit gauges went haywire and the fuel reading plummeted to zero. It turned out insulation on the plane's wiring had rotted away with age, shorting out the electrical system. The punch-line of the story was that Gen. Deptula was flying the same F-15 he had flown 20 years earlier as a young captain. But most of the people who tell the story don't know it has a new punch-line: Gen. Deptula's son, a first lieutenant, is now flying the same plane in the Pacific -- nearly 30 years after it was built. Maybe it's time the Air Force finally gets some new planes, before a real threat comes along."



This has been awhile in coming, but is definitely a good move. With the Chinese already well established, and the Iranians possibly attempting a move, Africa needs to get the attention it deserves and wasn't getting under the bastardized tripartite system that was previously in place.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Smart Grunts

Gen. Petraeus has assembled his "brain trust" in order to obtain victory in Iraq. Guess we now know what Col. McMaster and Lt. Col. Kilcullen are doing.

h/t: Chap

Web 2.0

If you have trouble understanding these new internets, check out this video (h/t: AL.)

I do have to say, though, that Web 2.0 is kinda one of those things that if you get it, you get it. If you don't, well, you're gonna be playing catch-up for awhile. This video would be a good first step in the right direction.

Bush 41 and Assad, sitting in a tree...

How do you tell if your Administration may not have pursued the best foreign policy?

Well, generally speaking, when backwater Baathist dictators praise you, that's not a good sign. It's understandable, though. On the one hand, Bush 41 encouraged a long suffering people not to throw off their oppressors. On the other, he gave Assad's Baathist bastard of a fellow dictator (may he rot in hell) carte blanche to take out the Shi'ites after encouraging them to revolt. What's a dictator not to love?

In any case, I think Iraq needs Syria's "help" just about as much as it needs Iran's. Speaking of which, Assad, this Johnny's for you...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cyclone Battalion Wins MacArthur Award

The Army ROTC Battalion here at ISU won the MacArthur Award, given to the best Army ROTC program west of the Mississippi River. I know a few of their cadets (including Zack McVey, who was quoted in the article) and they do have a solid program. I thought this statistic was particularly impressive: "Cadets who are between their junior and senior years are rated while training in Fort Lewis, Wash. ISU sent 18 cadets to the annual training last summer. Four of ISU's group were rated in the top 10 percent overall of the 3,800 cadets rated nationally."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

I Weep

According to the President, the war is "sapping our soul."

A little under 4 years and 3,000+ dead is enough, nowadays, to sap our nation's soul.

"THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated."

Friday, February 02, 2007

What the Hell is an Aluminum Falcon?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

BSG Gag Reel

Pretty frakkin' hilarious...

Spooky's Firepower

I mentioned Spooky a few days ago. He's getting some new fangs.

"Crews at Hurlburt Field have put the finishing touches on the first AC-130U Spooky gunship armed with the 30 mm Bushmaster cannon. The rearmed Spooky retains its 105 mm cannon but replaces the 25 mm and 40 mm guns with Bushmasters.
The aging 40 mm Bofors cannon, which has been around in various guises since World War II, is increasingly hard to maintain, Colonel Gottstine said, and there is no production line set up to replace shrinking ammunition stocks. While the 25 mm gun is newer, he said, "it is a maintenance hog as far as the amount of money and time we spend maintaining the ammo handling system." In addition, because no other Air Force aircraft use the 25 mm cannon, no one is working on developing new types of ammunition that could be effective for gunship operations, he said.

The Bushmaster cannon, on the other hand, will arm the Marine Corps' new amphibious assault vehicle, is installed on some Navy ships and is being looked at for uses in other capacities. Because of that, "the services are developing a lot of variations of 30 mm ammo," Colonel Gottstine said. "Different types of ammo will allow us to perform different missions or maybe give us some options to prosecute our targets differently."

The 25 mm cannon was originally installed in gunships as a suppression weapon to keep enemy troops pinned down so they could not move or shoot, said Paul Brousseau, AFSOC AC-130U requirements contractor support. However, the 25 mm has no air burst capability, which is often preferable for suppression fire, he said. "The Marine Corps is looking at a 30 mm airburst round that could possibly be a good capability for us sometime in the future," he said."