Sunday, September 30, 2007

Don't eat me bro!

As Chap says, brilliant. He may be a stinkin' Hawk fan, but Iowahawk definitely gets satire.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

In the Gavy

The CDR has been hating on the junior service this week. Navy beat Air Force today in the battle of the second and third hardest service academies. However, I don't think anything, not defeat on the gridiron, not supposedly "geeky" recruiting ads, can top this.

Reason #862 why I didn't join the Navy:

Friday, September 28, 2007

What (was) On Tonight (part II):

Part II in the continuing series:

Happened to be flipping through the channels before planning on making it a relatively early night and happened to see this on TCM. I of course had to watch.

Richard Burton, Clint Eastwood, great music, and enough twists and double crosses to make your head spin. Oh, and a great Richard Burton line:

Mary Ure's character (a fellow spy and erstwhile love interest of Burton): "I thought you loved me!"
Burton's character: "I can't help what you think!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

In honor of Ken Burns' new one...

Thought I'd dig one out from the archives:

Monday, September 24, 2007

Finish the Fight

This is pretty sweet. Live action Halo short.

In honor of the release tonight/tomorrow...

It's gonna be SWEET.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What's On Tonight:

An all-time classic. I just might be staying up a bit late tonight to watch this.

Oh, and I'll have more on the run and speaker later this week. Pretty powerful stuff, surprisingly. Homework and movies to do and watch now.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Never Forget

Today my Det. will be running the distance from the state Capitol in Des Moines up to campus in Ames, carrying the American and POW/MIA flags. This is how we honor them.

Take some time today to remember those who endured horrific conditions while captured. Take some time to remember those still out there. Take some time to remember those who bring them home.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Soccer Cage Match

If you watched the 2002 World Cup, you probably saw this series of commercials. Still probably one of the best soccer commercials made.

This makes me miss playing sports

I wasn't a football player (obviously), but this is just a really cool commercial.

Good use of the Last of the Mohicans music, as well.

h/t: John at OPFOR.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

If real life was like a comment section, part II

Part I here.

"Iran draws up plans to bomb Israel"

No, really:
TEHRAN, Iran - The deputy commander of Iran's air force said Wednesday that plans have been drawn up to bomb Israel if the Jewish state attacks Iran, according to the semiofficial Fars news agency.


"We have drawn up a plan to strike back at Israel with our bombers if this regime (Israel) makes a silly mistake," Gen. Mohammad Alavi was quoted as telling Fars in an interview.

Fars confirmed the quotes when contacted by The Associated Press, but would not provide a tape of the interview. The Iranian air force had no immediate comment.


Alavi also warned that Israel was within Iran's medium-range missiles and its fighter bombers, while maintaining that Israel was not strong enough to launch an aerial attack against Iran.

"The whole territory of this regime is within the range of our missiles. Moreover, we can attack their territory with our fighter bombers as a response to any attack," the general said.

An upgraded version of Iran's Shahab-3 missile has a range of 1,250 miles, capable of reaching Israel and carrying a nuclear warhead.

Alavi said Iran's radar bases were monitoring activities at the country's borders around the clock and boasted that it had the capability to confront U.S. cruise missiles.

"One of the issues the enemies make publicity about is their cruise missiles. Now, we possess the necessary systems to confront them," Alavi was quoted as saying.

In other news, "I triple guarantee you, there are no American soldiers in Baghdad."

I will concede that the Shahab-3 could maybe pose a threat...which is why Israel has these and these. The fighter-bombers? What, the Azarakhsh? Or maybe the forthcoming "fourth generation" Shafaq. Gen. Alavi needs to check with his buddies over in the IRCG. They know how to hit a western military power.

Hint: you don't do it with missiles and fighter bombers.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Silly Firefighters

USAF Firefighters proving they are second only to Security Forces in their propensity for stupidity. Let's just say that it involves two heavy duty aviation firetrucks having a water fight.

Happy 60th Air Force!

"In general the United States Air Force shall include aviation forces both combat and service not otherwise assigned. It shall be organized, trained, and equipped primarily for prompt and sustained offensive and defensive air operations. The Air Force shall be responsible for the preparation of the air forces necessary for the effective prosecution of war except as otherwise assigned and, in accordance with integrated joint mobilization plans, for the expansion of the peacetime components of the Air Force to meet the needs of war."

-National Security Act of 1947

In honor of the day I'm going to post the text of a speech I'm going to be giving tomorrow in honor of the Air Force's 60th birthday:

We’re gathered here this morning to celebrate the 60th birthday of the United States Air Force, but something you may not know is that there is another anniversary that we celebrate this year. The Air Force can trace its lineage back through the Army Air Forces, the Army Air Corps, the Army Air Service, the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps, and finally the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps. The other anniversary we celebrate this year is the 100th anniversary of military aviation in the United States with the establishment of the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps. Our current air and space force of almost 700,000 personnel and over 6000 aircraft had rather humble beginnings: one officer, two enlisted men, and no aircraft. There have been several men and women who have gotten us from there to now and added to the rich heritage of the air forces of this nation; I’d like to share a few of their stories with you today.

Frank Luke was a loner from Arizona who racked up one of the most impressive victory streaks in American history: 14 kills in 8 days, including 10 heavily guarded observation balloons. Observation balloons were the AWACS of WWI, a high value target that was defended by layers of anti-aircraft guns and several flights of fighters. Luke made downing them his specialty. Eddie Rickenbacker said of Luke: "He was the most daring aviator and greatest fighter pilot of the entire war. His life is one of the brightest glories of our Air Service. He went on a rampage and shot down fourteen enemy aircraft, including ten balloons, in eight days. No other ace, even the dreaded Richthofen had ever come close to that." His Medal of Honor citation reads:

After having previously destroyed a number of enemy aircraft within 17 days he voluntarily started on a patrol after German observation balloons. Though pursued by 8 German planes which were protecting the enemy balloon line, he unhesitatingly attacked and shot down in flames 3 German balloons, being himself under heavy fire from ground batteries and the hostile planes. Severely wounded, he descended to within 50 meters of the ground, and flying at this low altitude near the town of Murvaux opened fire upon enemy troops, killing 6 and wounding as many more. Forced to make a landing and surrounded on all sides by the enemy, who called upon him to surrender, he drew his automatic pistol and defended himself gallantly until he fell dead from a wound in the chest.

He was found the next day with an empty pistol and 7 dead Germans in front of him.

Although there were several instances of heroism among airmen in WWI, and although airpower demonstrated its potential during the war, the interwar years found the military as a whole and the air service in particular underfunded and undermanned. Something was needed to boost public interest in military aviation and prove its relevance. Such an operation was undertaken. It would foreshadow a major advance in military aviation and the crew involved reads like a who’s who of WWII air force officers. The mission was the flight of the Question Mark in 1929, a record setting endurance flight. Using aerial refueling, the crew of Carl Spaatz, Ira Eaker, Elwood Quesada, Harry Halverson, and Roy Hooe kept their Fokker trimotor airborne for 150 hours, 40 minutes, and 14 seconds. They refueled 43 times, using a rather primitive (by modern standards) system that involved dropping a hose from the refueling plane to the Question Mark, then having Spaatz on the question mark grab the hose through a hatch in the top of the plane and plug the hose in the tank, at which point fuel flow could begin. As you might guess, this set up was not the most fool proof; Spaatz was sprayed with fuel three times, eventually resorting to refueling stark naked to avoid soaking his clothes. The flight resulted in a wave of publicity for the Air Corps.

Obviously, there are countless examples of heroism among airmen during WWII. Crewmen in the strategic bombers that flew day after day against German targets suffered the second highest casualty rate of WWII. However, I’d like to focus on a lesser known theater of war, one where men flew aircraft cast off from Europe in a relative backwater against a fanatical enemy: the Southwest Pacific. One story involves one of the highest decorated flights in history: the flight of Old 666. Old 666 was a B-17 that had gained a reputation as a bad luck bird; it was being used for spare parts when its crew towed it out and began returning it to flight status, making numerous improvements and adding several machine guns to its defensive armament in the process. The decorated mission occurred on 16 June 1943 when the crew of Old 666 volunteered for an unescorted mapping mission alone deep into enemy territory. Near the end of the mission the aircraft was attacked by 17 Japanese fighters, severely wounding both the pilot, Jay Zeamer, and the bombardier, Joseph Sarnoski. Sarnoski fought back, downing two fighters, until he died at his post. The aircraft and crew suffered severe damage, including a loss of the oxygen and hydraulic systems, but continued to fight, downing an additional three fighters. The battle went on for 45 minutes until the fighters finally broke off the engagement. The crew made it safely back to an allied base, suffering one KIA and 6 WIA. Sarnosky and Zeamer were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor while the rest of the crew was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross.

Next I’d like to turn to another forgotten conflict, Korea. While much has been made of the exploits of pilots in MiG Alley and sustaining a 10-1 kill ratio, air to mud missions were the real difference makers in the Korean War. They sustained the outnumbered troops holding the Pusan Perimeter at the beginning of the war, and through countless interdiction and close air support missions they prevented the beleaguered troops withdrawing from the Chinese advance from turning into a complete rout. It’s an air to ground mission I’d like to focus on today. From his Medal of Honor citation: Maj. Loring distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. While leading a flight of 4 F-80 type aircraft on a close support mission, Maj. Loring was briefed by a controller to dive-bomb enemy gun positions which were harassing friendly ground troops. After verifying the location of the target, Maj. Loring rolled into his dive bomb run. Throughout the run, extremely accurate ground fire was directed on his aircraft. Disregarding the accuracy and intensity of the ground fire, Maj. Loring aggressively continued to press the attack until his aircraft was hit. At approximately 4,000 feet, he deliberately altered his course and aimed his diving aircraft at active gun emplacements concentrated on a ridge northwest of the briefed target, turned his aircraft 45 degrees to the left, pulled up in a deliberate, controlled maneuver, and elected to sacrifice his life by diving his aircraft directly into the midst of the enemy emplacements. His selfless and heroic action completely destroyed the enemy gun emplacement and eliminated a dangerous threat to United Nations ground forces. Maj. Loring's noble spirit, superlative courage, and conspicuous self-sacrifice in inflicting maximum damage on the enemy exemplified valor of the highest degree and his actions were in keeping with the finest traditions of the U.S. Air Force.

That’s the very definition of service before self.

Another example of service before self comes from the Vietnam conflict. On 24 February 1967, Captain Hilliard A. Wilbanks was piloting a Forward Air Control O-1E Bird Dog over the central highlands of Vietnam providing cover for a South Vietnamese Ranger Battalion. He spotted a large enemy force massing for an attack. He radioed a warning to the Rangers and began marking the enemy with white phosphorous rockets while calling for close air support. The enemy immediately unleashed a barrage of weaponry at both the Rangers and Wilbanks’s slow unarmored aircraft. Wilbanks realized that the fighters would not arrive soon enough to save the Rangers from annihilation. His phosphorous rockets exhausted, he had one other weapon. He began making low and slow passes over the enemy positions at a height of 100 feet, firing his M-16 out the side door as he went. This distracted and momentarily slowed the enemy troops. On his third pass, he was severely wounded and his plane was shot down. He was dragged unconscious from the plane as a flight of F-4s arrived overhead and began strafing the enemy. He died while being flown to a hospital. He was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his sacrifice.

Although the Air Force has several instances of heroism and bravery in the years following Vietnam, I’d like to close by focusing on three Airmen who gave their all in our most recent conflicts: SrA Jason Cunningham, TSgt John Chapman, and Maj Troy Gilbert.

SrA Cunningham and TSgt Chapman both gave their lives in the battle on Takur Ghar, later known as Roberts Ridge, on 3-4 March 2002. TSgt Chapman was attached to the SEAL team who came under heavy fire, losing a man out the back of their chopper. While attempting to rescue him, the chopper crashed. TSgt Chapman guided in numerous airstrikes, giving cover to the stranded men. Advancing on the ground, the team again came under heavy fire. TSgt Chapman continued the advance, taking one enemy fighting position. While advancing on a second position TSgt Chapman came under fire from three enemy positions, eventually succumbing to multiple wounds. His aggressive actions enabled the team to break contact and, in the words of the team leader, saved the lives of the entire team.

SrA Cunningham was attached to the ranger QRF which responded later that day to the same site. His helicopter came under fire and crash landed. Airman Cunningham remained in the burning fuselage to treat the wounded and exposed himself to intense enemy fire numerous times to recover, treat, and move casualties. Even when mortally wounded, Amn Cunningham continued his life saving treatment of critical American casualties. His care was credited with saving 10 lives that day.

Maj Troy Gilbert was an F-16 pilot tasked with giving close air support to an embattled U.S. patrol on 27 November 2006. While making several low passes, Major Gilbert ignored altitude warnings in order to be able to prosecute the enemy to maximum effect while avoiding friendly or civilian casualties. On his last pass, Major Gilbert flew too low and crashed. He gave his life to save friendlies and protect civilians.

While there is much more to Air Force history, I wanted to give you a taste today of some of those who have added to the rich history and tradition of our service. Each one of them provides a role model for all of us as we prepare to enter active duty. I’d like to thank all of you for your attention, and if anyone has any questions I’d be more than happy to answer them now or later today.

Here's to another 60.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


This is what college football needs more of:

h/t: Irish Trojan.

Cyclones Win!

I'm not particularly sad about being wrong this time. 15-13, the real irony is that the win came on special teams...a blocked FG and more importantly, Culbertson going 5/6 including the last second game winner.

Campustown is gonna be pretty ridiculous tonight.

A Reminder

That the U.S. Military is still a dangerous profession no matter what our current state of war (or lack thereof) is:

BAMAKO (AFP) — A US military aircraft dropping provisions to Malian troops was fired upon by rebels this week and was slightly damaged, US military officials and diplomats said Thursday.

Major John Dorrian of the US command in Stuttgart, Germany confirmed the attack and slight damage to the C-130 aircraft.

"There was minor damage to the aircraft, but no injuries," he said.

Pentagon military spokesman Commander Ron Hill said the aircraft "received minor structural damage -- some holes in the fuselage".

Dorian added that the damage was likely caused by "small arms fire, probably rifles".

The plane was targeted on Wednesday as it was flying over northern Mali, where the government army is confronting Tuareg insurgents.

A diplomatic source in Bamako said the "the rebels did it (the shooting)."

The aircraft had been air-dropping 6.3 tonnes of food to the Malian troops and the mission was successfully completed, US military officials said.

Just in case you had forgotten.

h/t: Alert 5

Worst. Commercial. Ever.

I think the most unintentionally funny part is when they try to advertise a graphical shell like it's a GOOD thing.

h/t: Chris


...or something. It's just a little hard to get excited for this game when you know that we're going to get our asses handed to us. I was flipping through the channels and caught the "State of the Nation" pre-game show (a weekly local access show about the Cyclones and Hawks, although it has somewhat higher production values because it's more of a state access show...anyway). They were doing the standard run-down of which team has the advantage in various areas...quarterback, running backs, linebackers, d-line, o-line, etc. The Hawk guy would discuss a little bit about the player(s) for the two teams, then ask the Cyclone guy for who he felt had the advantage; the Cyclone fan always responded with a simple despondent "...Hawks." The two funniest moments were when they were discussing the kicking game..."Now we turn to the kicking ga-" "...hawks." "Are you sure? I mean, Culbertson is a senio-" "HAWKS!" "Ooookay, let's look at punting...Brandtner for ISU had a pretty good game last week, while Iowa's Donahue has struggled as of late." "...hawks." "Are you sure? I mean, Donahue had a 7 yard squib last week...he wouldn't have gotten the first down if they had given him the kicking yardage." "Hawks."

Yeah. It's gonna be one of those afternoons. Fortunately I have a considerable amount of homework to keep me occupied, to say nothing of the fact that I've got a 10 minute speech/presentation/briefing that I've got to give next Tuesday in honor of the USAF's 60th birthday. I'm sure I'll have the game on in the background, but it's questionable if I'll be watching.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


6 years ago I was a freshman in high school. I was pretty dead set on being an Air Force officer, but I was still debating whether to go AFROTC or to the Academy. My more pressing concern was getting in shape for Cross Country that fall and keeping up with my trumpet playing (I was in the marching band all four years of high school; ended up as drum major my senior year.) The morning started out normal, got to school early for marching band practice, spent the first hour and a half of my day out on the field running through our drill. I believe we were doing West Side Story that year. Had Choir after band for the next period of the day. This took me right up to 0900 CDT, or a little over an hour after the first attack on the WTC.

After Choir we had CAU, a kind of homeroom period for 15 minutes. Most teachers are pretty lax about where you are during CAU, so it was common practice for students to wander the halls to see their friends. This is when the rumors started getting out about some sort of plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers. I think most of the adults in the school were still rather clueless at this time, but my high school had and still has this thing called the laptop program where students are given the option of purchasing a laptop through the school and then using that laptop in special laptop oriented classes. It's a pretty cool deal, I did it while I was there. However, in 2001, there were only a small select group of upperclassmen who were using the laptops. They had gotten on the internet during their first couple of classes and had started to get news about the attacks.

Of course, we were way behind the news curve on this one, as by the time we were just starting to hear the news of the crash (we weren't calling it an attack yet) all the planes had struck their targets, Flight 93 was down, and the south tower had already fallen. In my CAU we didn't have the TV on. Like I said, the adults seemed to be more clueless than the students (this will become painfully obvious in a second). In the class I had after CAU (right around 0930 CDT) the teacher there had turned the TV on and I walked in just in time to see the north tower fall, live. I walked in, looked up at the TV, thought to myself "that looks an awful lot like the WTC...but why is there only one tower? Why is there all that smoke?" And then..."HOLY SHIT!" ...the north tower came down. Live. That moment is going to be etched into my memory for the rest of my life.

Inexplicably, the teacher in that classroom then turned off the TV and tried to carry on with the class. I heard later on that this was on orders from the administration to have a normal school day; I don't think they fully grasped the situation yet because later on, once it became apparent the magnitude of the attacks, all we did was watch TV coverage. In any case, that was 45 minutes of hell, wondering what the f**k had just happened. I got to my next class and here our teacher gave us a little run down of what had happened so far: WTC both collapsed, attack on the Pentagon, Flight 93, supposedly other hijacked aircraft airborne, rumored targets included the White House, Capitol Hill, etc., Air Force One had come under attack from an airliner, and a host of other rumors. He then turned on the TV and we watched the towers fall...over and over and over. We watched the towers burning. We watched the people trapped by the flames and overcome by the smoke. We watched the jumpers. We watched the Pentagon on fire. Total sensory overload. I think everyone was in shock. I remember at the time having some vague thoughts that this meant we were at war, but nothing too coherent. Then it was time for lunch.

Let the floodgates of rumor open...too many to recount, but I think the most interesting, from a psychological standpoint, was the one that Omaha was a target because of Offutt. Interesting to see the Cold War mindset at work on a most base level even among high school freshmen.

After lunch it was more of the same, watching coverage and seeing some of the rumors get cleared up while the death toll became painfully apparent, although it also became apparent that things could have been a lot worse. There was nothing particularly noteworthy about the rest of the school day. When school let out, all after school activities were canceled. I was waiting outside for a ride when I heard a roar and naturally looked up (I was already a huge airplane nut; I would've looked up regardless but on this day the glance was quicker and much more...not fearful, but on guard.) I saw a 747, which to a lot of my friends didn't immediately mean anything because Offutt is home to the E-4, so a 747 painted up in a bright paint job flying out of Offutt is nothing unusual. This wasn't an E-4, though. It was, of course, Air Force One.

That's when it really hit home for me. If the President was at Offutt, that meant he was at the Stratcom (former SAC) CP buried in the ground. That meant there was some serious stuff going down. That meant we were at war. While I had no idea where or to what degree, it meant that my future career choice just got a lot more interesting.

Never forget. Never forgive. Never stop.

Make sure to check out SJS as well. He was there.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Petraeus Testimony

Watching the testimony now, just had to get this out...Robert Wexler is an arrogant pretentious idiotic DICK. If I was Gen. Petraeus my response would be to sit there and stare, then ask if there was a question anywhere in his bloviating. But I suppose that's why I probably shouldn't plan on making flag rank.

On another note, I really wish we got C-SPAN 3 here. I got to watch Robert Wexler make an ass out of himself but didn't get to hear Gen Petraeus's response because Fox cut away. I shouldn't complain too much least Fox was still covering the testimony, CNN cut away sometime around 2, I think. Guess I'll have to catch it on C-SPAN tonight.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

SJS on 9/11

He was there. He remembers. Go check it out. Also make sure to check out Southern Air Pirate's remembrances of the day as well. He was at sea on the Big E when it happened.

As a programming note I'll be posting my memories of 9/11 sometime over the next few days. Not nearly as exciting as either of those fine two gentlemen, but still relevant I think.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Lt Col Nagl

...was on Book tv tonight. Yes, I was watching C-SPAN2 on a Saturday night. During a football game. Sue me.

Anyway, he was being interviewed by Sean Naylor, of "Not a Good Day to Die" fame. Lt Col Nagl raised several good points; I'll try to summarize some of them now, more grouped in similar areas of discussion instead of the order they appeared.

The first is the general category of why the Army needed a new COIN FM, how and how well it has adapted, and will it continue to adapt, etc.?

Obviously, the reason the Army needed a new COIN FM was the fact that Big Army, prior to 2001, didn't do COIN. It was something the snake eaters did. Lt Col Nagl brought up the Weinberger Doctrine/Powell Corollary when discussing the effort to try and move Big Army away from straight kinetic conventional ops, something I've discussed here. This has been and will continue to be a hard slog, but in the words of Lt Col Nagl it will become a "cascading learning process" throughout the Army; what he meant by this is that at the same time that he and others were sitting down to write FM 3-24 the Army was revamping the NTC out at Fort Irwin and Col. McMaster was training his 3rd ACR for COIN and putting it to great effect in Tal Afar. It's not so much that FM3-24 is the be all end all of the Army's transformation into COIN but rather that it will serve as a catalyst to help accelerate what other efforts were already doing.

Mr. Naylor brought up the point that a review of U.S. operations in the first few years of the war reads like a list of what not to do. Things like "overemphasizing killing and capturing as opposed to engaging people, large scale operations as the norm, holing up in large bases, focusing special operations forces on raiding, low priority on advisors, and building and training indigenous forces in our own image." The response to this was that the Army was learning and is changing the force, something that struck me as a little boilerplate, but I guess more or less true. The question is the degree to which the force is changing.

Along this line of questioning there were some questions raised regarding the effectiveness of Gen Casey vs. Gen Petraeus. Lt Col Nagl brought up a very interesting point which was that Gen Petraeus has forces who understand COIN much better than the forces that Gen Casey was given. Gen Casey didn't have the right instruments to implement his plan. It takes time for the new doctrine to work its way all the way through the system. According to Lt Col Nagl, Gen Casey laid a lot of the groundwork that has allowed Gen Petraeus to be as successful as he has been. A good example of this is the COIN Academy that Gen Casey started in Iraq at Taji.

Finally, there was a question about what percentage of officers in the Army "get it," and how this breaks down between the different grades of officers. Lt Col Nagl was hesitant to put a percentage figure out there but did say that he felt that more officers at the company and field grade "got it" as opposed to officers of flag rank. However, he said that he hoped FM 3-24 would act, again, as a catalyst for change and that he felt that everyone would "get it" within 6 months to a year, a time frame that I felt was rather optimistic.

The next major area of questions involved some details about FM 3-24.

The first was why it was an Army/Marine document only; why not write joint doctrine? This is a question rather relevant to me, as the Air Force pitched a temper tantrum when FM 3-24 came out and has written it's own Irregular War doctrine, AFDD 2-3. As should be obvious by the tantrum pitched by the USAF, getting a joint doctrine put together will take years, something the Army and Marines didn't have time to wait around for. As it was, getting FM 3-24 put together took a considerable amount of wrangling between the Army and Marine Corps teams assigned to write it.

The next regarded OPSEC and the fact that FM 3-24 is unclassified, it is accessible on the internet, and excerpts have been found in al-Q and Taliban training manuals. Lt Col Nagl stated that OPSEC was a concern, but that they had several reasons for making it unclassified. The first was that it was intended to be a document that would be used inter-agency, with State, Justice, etc. and that a lot of those personnel may not have the proper security clearances to view a classified doctrine document. The next was that it was intended to be carried in the rucks of soldiers doing the counter-insurgency; this would be impossible if the document were classified. However, the most important reason for making is unclassified was so the American people would be able to read it. The American people are asking the question of what the military is doing to win this war, and making FM 3-24 unclassified is intended to provide them with the opportunity to answer that question.

This, almost more than anything else in this interview, showed me that he definitely "gets it." The strategic Center of Gravity in this war is the will of the American people and this is just one more way to leverage that. In addition, the more open a document is the more people will read it and the more constructive criticism can be made.

The next area of questioning revolved around the concept of "less being more" firepower wise in COIN.

This is, in Lt Col Nagl's words, the "paradox of COIN. The more force you use the less effective you are." This obviously runs counter to the American way of waging war and the core beliefs of the U.S. Army, something Desert Storm just reinforced. Less force can be more due to collateral damage and, more specifically, the concept of blood feud among many of the tribes in Iraq. While not as gratifying in the short term, the restraint of force yields great dividends in the long run, which is exactly the point. It's a long war, not a short one. Killing 50 insurgents this week does you no good if it creates 100 more 6 months down the road due to the collateral damage incurred in the strike. This line of thinking of course leads down the line of just how relevant airpower is in a COIN conflict, but I don't want to get into that right now.

The follow up question to this regarded the concept among some military officers that over there "Arabs only respect force." That if you do not use a lot of firepower the people will regard you as weak and soft. Lt Col Nagl completely rejected this contention (as do I) and used an example from his time in al Anbar. At the time he was there, U.S. forces possessed the capability to completely annihilate whatever they wanted to. The Iraqis he was working with knew this. However, they respected U.S. forces much more when they used force as stingily as possible and (this is the important part) used it to empower indigenous forces. This is when the use of firepower is most effective. Indigenous forces have several advantages over outside forces: language, knowledge of local terrain (including the cultural terrain), etc. The use of indigenous forces shows respect and confidence in the security forces, the government, and the people as a whole. This is exactly what you should be trying to achieve in COIN. In the words of Lt Col Nagl, foreign forces provide the muscle, the fist in the glove, that "backs up and empowers the host nation forces."

The last major area of questioning I'll call "big picture."

The first was regarding whether any operations in recent history had been successful while using the doctrine espoused in FM 3-24. Predictably, Lt Col Nagl brought up the British example in Malaya. According to him, you need good doctrine, but you also need time. That COIN operation did not start off well and needed 12 years to complete from start to finish.

The obvious follow up is whether or not the country has the patience for that. I'm going to quote Lt Col Nagl in length here because he did a great job of answering this particular question, and it certainly is an important one.
I think that's a fair requirement from the American people. Of course, their representatives speak for them. We as an Army, as a government, have to show the American people that we are making progress. We also have to explain to them what is required to succeed and what our strategy is. We have not, I don't think, been as successful as we could have been, should have been, in all of those things. The American people will support a long campaign but they have to be shown that the fighting is for a good cause and that these sacrifices need to be made. 9/11 showed us that we can't ignore failed states. It is in our interest to prevent states from failing...This is hard to understand; it can be very frustrating, it can take a long time. We have to do a good job of explaining to the American people the need to succeed and the cost of failure.
Following the U.S. experience in Vietnam, the Army shunned COIN (see Weinberger Doctrine/Powell Corollary above). Will a "loss" in Iraq lead to the same effect? While Lt Col Nagl didn't directly answer this question, he did state why we can't afford to let this happen again. Enemies attack us in our weak points and due to the Vietnam effect fighting an insurgency is one of our weak points. "This is the kind of war our enemies are going to use to oppose our interests, to impose their will, for the remainder of this century." A pretty bold statement, but one that I agree with. It's called a long war for a reason. Lt Col Nagl also made the point that due to its length and its nature, this war isn't just an Army problem or a Marine problem or even a DoD problem. It's a national problem, one that requires a national effort from all areas of government, which leads into the next question.

A criticism heard from soldiers on the front lines is that they're the only ones out there; State, Justice, USAID, in some cases the CIA, are nowhere to be seen. Where are they? Is that a fair criticism?

Lt Col Nagl said that he's made the same criticism himself. However, when he returned from al Anbar he did a tour at the Pentagon giving him a chance to interact with several personnel from the other agencies and learned an interesting fact: there are more personnel in military bands than there are working in the Foreign Service Officer position in State. Inter-agency cooperation in order to win this war is crucial, and we need to increase the number of personnel serving in those types of jobs in all the necessary agencies.

The last question was definitely a big picture one. A common assumption of COIN is that when insurgents are seen as criminals, they lose support. The U.S. govt has, since 9/11, been militarizing the struggle, referring to it as a war, preferring to label captured insurgents combatants, etc. Is this wrong?

Lt Col Nagl's answer revolved around information operations. Former SecDef Rumsfeld gave the U.S. govt a D- in the IO arena, and according to Lt Col Nagl that was being charitable. "We have not done a good job of painting a picture of our enemies and what they do and the horrific atrocities they commit on a daily basis. We have not done a good job of showing and explaining those realities to the American people, the Iraqi people, the Afghanistan people, the people of the world."
During the Cold War, the US Information Agency (USIA) did a great job of spreading our message out to the world, especially to those in the Communist bloc. If he had one recommendation for the long war, it would be to bring the USIA back. Again, this shows to me that he really "gets it." Information and shaping perceptions is key.

Sorry for the length of the piece, but hopefully you found it somewhat informative. I know I certainly did.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I'm Hot Cuz I'm...Deployed?

h/t: Chairforce, which has a LOT of really funny updated stuff. Make sure to check it out. The Gaycon, Real Combat Airmen, and De-Motivators are quite amusing. The misplaced mic cord is also rather nice as well.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Acoustic Nelly?

This is rather ridiculous...a cover of Hot in Herre by Jenny Owen Youngs.

Little higher quality version here...go about 5 minutes or so into the podcast.

h/t: Samberb

Monday, September 03, 2007

Hacking the Gibson

The Chinese are certainly some l33t haxXors:

The Chinese military hacked into a Pentagon computer network in June in the most successful cyber attack on the US defence department, say American ­officials.

The Pentagon acknowledged shutting down part of a computer system serving the office of Robert Gates, defence secretary, but declined to say who it believed was behind the attack.

Current and former officials have told the Financial Times an internal investigation has revealed that the incursion came from the People’s Liberation Army.

One senior US official said the Pentagon had pinpointed the exact origins of the attack. Another person familiar with the event said there was a “very high level of confidence...trending towards total certainty” that the PLA was responsible. The defence ministry in Beijing declined to comment on Monday.

4GW comes in all sorts of flavors; this is just another. Would we be able to defeat an attack on our networks? If not, how would we function minus our networks? Good questions, and I'm not sure if they're being asked enough.

A smiley face sticker goes to the person who can reference the title, by the way.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Poles

All jokes aside, go check out what Chris has to say about them.

In case you want the short version, they broke Enigma. Enough said.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Three Years Ago


It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that this is in part why I'm serving (I guess) and are definitely planning to serve. I wanted to serve before Khobar Towers, before the embassy bombings, before 9/11, before 3/11, before Beslan, but all that just reinforced it. 4GW and all leniency aside, there's people out there who need killing. And that's, in part, why I'm here and doing what I'm doing.

h/t: Chap