Friday, November 30, 2007

Sweet Tank Video

Yeah, it's French, but check out the crazy power slide at 0:22.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Det. 250 on the Intertubes

This is what we do at AFROTC Detachment 250. First video, you've seen. Second video is of Lt. Shipley, a recent graduate, attempting to silly string one of our NCOs while he was drinking from the grog at Dining In last year. Third video is a bearing test during Tiger Flight where we basically do anything to try and make the Tigers break their bearing.

We've very productive here, as you can see.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

While we're on the subject

of Western militaries, helos, and the lack thereof, let's talk about the Germans:
The German army has refuted accusations its helicopters left Norwegian and Afghan troops alone in a battle in order to make it to home base before dusk, but the incident still underscores how unhappy some NATO officials are with the Germans in Afghanistan.

"For us ze war is over by teatime, ja," ran the headline in the Nov. 18 edition of the (London) Sunday Times. The British weekly accused the Germans of having abandoned their NATO allies in an offensive against the Taliban. Apparently, Bundeswehr medical evacuation helicopters pulled out in the middle of the battle because they needed to be back on home base by sundown. The other NATO forces were thus forced to retreat as well, the newspaper said.

"We were attacking the bad guys, then at three or four o'clock the helicopters are leaving," a Norwegian officer told the Sunday Times. "We had to go back to base. We should have had Norwegian helicopters. At least they can fly at night."

He sounds pissed. Rightfully so, it appears:

The article said the German unwillingness to fly at night is undermining Operation Desert Eagle, an allied offensive directed at the Taliban involving 500 NATO troops plus 1,000 Afghan soldiers and police. The Germans are not allowed to travel more than two hours from a hospital equipped for emergency surgery -- another issue that has fueled tensions between Germany and its NATO allies, who are angry that Bundeswehr troops keep away from the intense battles.

"(The Germans) spend much of their time in an enormous base, complete with beer halls and nightclubs, in Mazar-i-Sharif, a 90-minute flight from the fighting," the article said.

There is the official line:

"There is no ban on night flights," a German armed forces spokesman told the online version of German news magazine Der Spiegel.

Weather conditions could potentially limit the flight of German helicopters, the spokesman said, "but then it's not just us -- the others don't fly either." He added that no official complaint was filed from the Norwegians, and even the Scandinavians seem to doubt that things happened as described in the Sunday Times.

Lt. Col. John Inge Oeglaend of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters told Spiegel Online he has heard nothing concrete of the incident, adding the mission was not abruptly ended. "I have no idea how the officer on the battlefield came to such a conclusion," Oeglaend said.

Of course, you'll notice no one is disputing the medical requirement, possibly the most asinine part of the entire article. I hate to be the one to break it to the Germans, but everything that is technically possible in war is not always realistically feasible. I'm sure we would love it if we could have a trauma surgeon follow every patrol in Iraq or Afghanistan, but that would kind of get in the way of the whole killing bad guys thing. Which is why we're there. You, maybe not so much..."
complete with beer halls and nightclubs, in Mazar-i-Sharif...".

Here's the crux of the matter:

While the renewed official German backing for OEF has soothed Washington, the country has in the past repeatedly come under fire for confining its troops to the northern provinces, where the number of roadside bombs and suicide attacks has increased, but where safety generally can be ensured. This is not the case in the southern provinces, where Germans have refused to go and where NATO forces are taking heavy fire from Taliban rebels.

Either you're in NATO and you're at war, or you're not and you aren't. You can't have it both ways.

Hard to believe that an entire continent once trembled at the thought of these guys...

NATO and Choppers

It's a common refrain, but European militaries are ridiculously short of helos, especially those with the capability to operate where they are most needed, places that tend to be hot and high.
BRUSSELS, Nov 27 (Reuters) - In conflicts from Afghanistan to Africa, international efforts to secure peace are being hobbled by a chronic lack of the tool vital to all modern militaries -- helicopters.

A shortage of top-end machines needed for tropical conditions plus a reluctance of countries to bear the costs of deploying them are being exacerbated by a procurement logjam that means a major renewal of Western fleets is years off.

Recent appeals for helicopters by the United Nations, NATO and European Union mission commanders have faced a deafening silence, forcing planners to study second-best options such as "rent-a-chopper" deals with the private sector.

"We should be better off when the new-generation helicopters arrive, but the procurement gap only starts closing in about two years," complained one NATO official.

The shortage is hitting peacekeeping throughout the world.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned this month that the planned U.N.-African force in Sudan's Western Darfur region would not be able to fulfil its mandate without a further 24 helicopters to help cover a region the size of France.

A separate EU-led operation to safeguard refugees spilling across the border from Darfur into Chad and the Central African Republic is also at least 10 machines short, commanders say.

Why are helicopters important?

"Without helicopters, nobody moves in that kind of terrain," said Andrew Brookes, defence analyst at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS).

"Helicopters can do 3-4 miles (5-6 km) a minute and get you wherever you need to get. On the ground, it might take 10 hours and the battle is already lost by the time you get there."

A tale of two militaries:

IISS's annual 2007 survey of global military muscle put the U.S. armed forces' total helicopter fleet at 6,023 while defence analysts estimate NATO's European members have around 2,100.

Pointing the finger at Britain's continental allies, Foreign Secretary David Miliband this month questioned how EU countries had only provided 35 helicopters for NATO's 40,000-strong force in Afghanistan and none at all for Darfur.

The hidden cost...

Tim Ripley, defence analyst at Jane's Defence Weekly, said the real cost of helicopters was in maintaining and operating them -- especially in the hot and dusty conditions where many conflicts are played out.

"Every 500 hours of flying time you have to take them apart, and put them together again. It is an open-ended cheque book issue and most countries have finite money to spend on this."

Ripley estimated an eight-helicopter deployment for a year meant setting aside 24-32 machines because of a need to rotate machines every three months, not to mention a team of 150-200 personnel to maintain and run them.

"The only (European) allies able to do this are Britain, France, Spain and Italy," he said.

Inadequate equipment certainly exacerbates the situation.

Even that assumes that those countries have the machines that can pass the "hot and high" test -- that is, have the power to achieve sufficient airlift in areas such as Afghanistan, where the air is thinned by heat and high altitude.

"When we were putting together the requirements for the Afghan mission, we discovered surprisingly few member states' helicopters were up to the job," said the NATO official.

Ripley said only British, Dutch, and U.S. forces had the powerful versions of the Chinook CH-47 heavy-lift helicopter needed for work in Afghanistan, while Germany had a limited number of CH 53 machines that can also serve there.

About those CH-53s...

There is a solution on the horizon, but it's run into (entirely expected) problems...

Military officials expect the shortfall to ease as more armies take deliveries of European aerospace group EADS's multi-role NH90 helicopter, but the question is when.

The group announced in July that the project had run into problems serious enough for it to take a 105 million euro ($155.9 million) quarterly charge.

"A lot of NH90s have been ordered that haven't arrived yet," said the NATO official.

So what's the stop-gap? Turn to the Russians!
As a stopgap, NATO and EU are looking to rent out workhorse helicopters such as the Russian-made Mi-17s to take over the least challenging transport tasks in places such as Chad and Afghanistan, freeing up core fleets for vital operations.
This problem isn't going to be going away anytime soon, especially with the probable decrease in the U.S. fleet during the recapitalization period that will follow a withdrawal from Iraq. The lesson to be learned here is that you lose seemingly mundane capability like helos at your own peril.

h/t: Alert 5

Unit Patches

Those of you who have been around the military long enough have become familiar with the ubiquitous unit patch...some sort of cartoon, usually depicting some sort of fierce creature doing something cool, and an inspiring phrase in Latin that no one really knows what it means.

Even those in the classified black world have to have their unit patches. From an upcoming book, here's a taste of some pretty awesomely bad ones.

h/t: Danger Room

While we're on the subject, check out these sweet KC-135 patches over at Chairforce. My personal favorite is the "SAC WILL BE BACK" one.

Midweek AC/DC

Yes, that's AC/DC with original frontman Dave Evans. Not a bad singer...but not AC/DC. This is to make you appreciate Bon Scott...

Ah, much better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chuck Norris Goodness

Because everyone can use more Chuck Norris.

ANNOUNCEMENT - Fanny packs are cool again.
(from CollegeHumor)

If all goes to plan, his elite unit of Karate Kommandos should bring stability to Iraq within the next 12 hours.
(from CollegeHumor)

If you don't get the "Karate Kommandos" reference in the second picture...

The cartoon is the epitome of '80s children's cartoons. If you have the means to acquire them, I highly recommend it. To the best of my knowledge there were only 5 episodes aired.

The video may not play properly; it's Quicktime so that may have something to do with it. In any case, if it doesn't play for you just click through to the CollegeHumor page to view it there. It's definitely worth it.

And yes, I noticed that ol' Chuck is wearing Marine utilities. Only appropriate, I suppose, even though that he was actually in the Air Force, as a cop, no less.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Good Question

Is it?

h/t: Chap

Things could be worse, UK edition

This definitely falls into that category:
Injured soldiers who lost their limbs fighting for their country have been driven from a swimming pool training session by jeering members of the public.

The men, injured during tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, were taking part in a rehabilitation session at a leisure centre, when two women demanded they be removed from the pool. They claimed that the soldiers "hadn't paid" and might scare the children.

The incident has sparked widespread condemnation. Adml Lord Boyce, a former head of the Armed Forces, said last night the women should be "named and shamed".

These people are beneath contempt and everything should be done to get their names and publish them in the press," he said. "It is contemptible that people who have given up their limbs for their country should be so abused when they are trying to get fit again."


The unpleasant scenes broke out at Leatherhead Leisure Centre in Surrey when the wounded veterans, who are at Headley Court Military Hospital, had to use the 25-metre public pool because the hydro-pool at the defence rehabilitation centre is not big enough for swimming.

The servicemen were about to begin their weekly swimming therapy in closed-off lanes when they were verbally abused by the swimmers.

One woman in her 30s was said to be infuriated by the lane closures saying the soldiers did not deserve to be there when she had paid.

It was also reported that others complained that limbless servicemen were scaring children at the centre.

The atmosphere was said to be so tense that the soldiers' instructors removed them.

Charles Murrin, 79, a Navy veteran who saw the incident, said: "The woman said the men do not deserve to be in there and that she pays to come in the pool and they don't. I spoke to the instructor in the changing room afterwards and he was livid."

Understandably so. If I see something like that happen you had better bet someone is getting a stern talking to and they should be glad that is all they're getting. "They didn't pay." Nope, not at all. I'm sure your 5 pounds or whatever is much more important than his limb.

Kipling had it right...
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind,
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.

For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country," when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
But Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!
h/t: Instapundit

It's arrived

How do you know something like podcasting has truly arrived? Well, a good rule of thumb is that when an 86 year old man is doing it, almost anyone probably is. Oh, did I say 86 year old man? Sorry, I meant 86 year old retired judge, prosecutor, cop, and 1st Lt. Buck Compton. Yeah, THAT Buck Compton. He's got a website where you can listen to his commentaries. Now, fair warning, he isn't exactly the easiest to listen to, but I doubt anyone is when they're 86 years old. It's not like it's impossible or anything, and after all, it is Buck Compton. The man killed a Nazi by throwing a grenade with such precision that it detonated right as it contacted with the back of the guy's head, killing him instantly. His commentaries make some good sense and it's just cool to listen to someone from that generation speak about pretty much anything. If you're interested, go give him a listen.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


This is really cool:

If you don't quite understand the significance of the paint scheme, check out this picture:
Still don't get it? Check out the official USAF press release:
11/23/2007 - AUSTIN, Texas (AFPN) -- An F-16C Fighting Falcon from the Texas Air National Guard's 111th Fighter Squadron is flying with a special paint job in honor of the squadron's 90th anniversary. All the colors and markings have specific meanings, reflecting the unit's nine-decade history.

The rudder is painted like a JN-4 Jenny, which the squadron flew in the 1920s. The schemes for the wings and flaps recall the paint schemes of the pre-World War II era.

The blue fuselage represents the Korean War, in which the squadron earned credit for two air victories. The gray underside represents the jet age.

The "N5 A" was the insignia the squadron's P-51 Mustangs sported during World War II, in which the squadron claimed 44 air victories. Also representing World War II is the star on the fuselage, while the star on the wing represents the pre-World War II era.

"Ace in the Hole" and the star on the tail replicate the markings of the squadron's F-84s during the Korean War. The ventral fin, partially obscured, reads "Est. 1917."

Today the 111th FS is part of the 147th Fighter Wing, based at Ellington Field in Houston.
Think of it as the USAF's version of a throwback jersey. Incidentally, the website where I got the picture of the Peashooter has some really good plane pr0n, including a lot of the prop variety. I know some of you are into that sort of thing. A taste:

h/t: Alert 5

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Things I'm thankful for

1)B-2 bombers

2)The airmen who fly and maintain them

3)Putting the Norks and any *other* adversaries on notice

HONOLULU - More than 18,000 feet above the mountains on Hawaii's biggest island, two B-2 stealth bombers drop six 2,000-pound inert bombs on a training range below.

It's a scene being repeated monthly as the Air Force's sleek, boomerang-shaped planes use Hawaii for target practice. The aim is to make sure pilots are trained and ready to act if needed. The bombers have been assigned to Guam to deter North Korea and to fill gaps in the regional U.S. military presence created by deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.


The planes have been flying test runs over Hawaii and Alaska since the Pentagon began rotating bombers through Guam in 2004. But they only started dropping inert bombs on the Big Island's Pohakuloa Training Area last month.

In the past, pilots only simulated dropping weapons over the islands. Now, they can see whether the bombs they release land where they are supposed to.

The planes are equipped to drop "smart" bombs, or weapons guided to their targets by GPS technology. But they don't use it in the Hawaii drills.

Instead, the airmen rely on gravity — and extensive data on wind speed and elevation — to deliver their unarmed bombs to the right spot.


Bruce Bechtol, a professor at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Va., said North Korea refers to the Guam bomber deployments in its propaganda, indicating it felt their presence.

Pyongyang realizes the U.S. would use the planes to respond if the North attacked South Korea, said Bechtol, an expert on air power on the Korean peninsula. It is also well aware of planes and forces the U.S. has amassed in Japan that could be used against it, he said.

"This all affects how North Korea looks at their foreign policy, how they look at the type of behavior they may engage in with their neighbor," Bechtol said.


I want to do this someday


Not sure why it's being stupid, click on the picture to get the full effect.

Hell, I don't even want to do that. I just want to ride around in one of those little kid jeep things.

h/t: Patrick

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Went out to the local range and got my hands on one of these today:I've been wanting to go shoot an XD for awhile now, primarily because I've been thinking about buying one. I was not disappointed. There's really nothing I can say I don't like about this gun. Good ergonomics, especially regarding the grip. Sights were standard iron but nothing to complain about there (and unlike their combat tupperwear competitors from Austria, these sights WERE actually iron). Trigger pull is clean and relatively light. Action is smooth and recoil was manageable (the gun I was shooting was chambered in .40 S&W). Considering how out of practice I was (last time I shot a handgun was at FT in June) I wasn't too disappointed in my shooting. Good groups if a little off the mark. One of the other guys I was there with was shooting a Kimber 1911 in .45 ACP (can't remember the exact model), the other was shooting a Beretta 8000 in 9mm. The Kimber did not disappoint, as always, although I have to say I think .45 ACP may be a bit much. It was manageable, but I felt the .40 S&W was a better fit for me. The Beretta, on the other hand, was a, well, Beretta. Handled similar to the M9 I qualified on at FT. At the time I didn't really mind the DA/SA trigger mechanism, but today when going straight over to that from the striker fired XD and the SA Kimber the DA/SA was a little annoying. That first long trigger pull seemed to go on forever, and I can't really see that being an asset in a tactical situation. The 9mm was of course manageable, but I just don't like it as a chambering. If you're interested in target practice, use a .22. If you're interested in targets that move, you really shouldn't go below .40 S&W automatic-wise. (Revolvers are a different story, but I really don't care for revolvers. A personal thing I guess.) In any case, there are definitely worse ways to spend an afternoon.

Of course, afterwards we made the mistake of going to Cabela's where I found exactly what I'm looking for. XD sub-compact, 3'' barrel, in .40 S&W. It's *only* $550, the problem is I definitely do not have $550 lying around.
Feel free to make contributions to the "buy me a gun fund."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Social networking and what it says about you

Found an interesting article about a study that relates your choice of social networking site to your socio-economic background:

The social networking site of choice is related to a student's race, ethnicity and parents' education, a new survey indicates.

The finding "suggests there's less intermingling of users from varying backgrounds on these sites than previously believed," said study leader Eszter Hargittai of the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University in Illinois.

Hargittai surveyed more than 1,000 freshmen from the University of Illinois, Chicago.

Results show:

  • Caucasian students prefer Facebook.
  • Hispanic students prefer MySpace.
  • Asian and Asian-American students were more likely than others to "socialize" on Xanga and Friendster. They also used Facebook.
  • Asian and Asian-American students are least likely to use MySpace.

Parents' education level was also found to impact choice of social networking site. Students whose parents had college degrees more often reported Facebook and Xanga use compared with students with non-college-degree parents. (Facebook requires a valid e-mail ID that is associated with certain colleges, universities and other institutions.)

MySpace users were skewed toward students with parents having less than a high-school education than those with even some college experience (with or without achieving a college degree).

Nothing new to me, but someone who isn't as plugged in to social networking might find it interesting. I will say that what the study found is the common perception, especially with regard to education level. The perception is that facebook is for educated folks while MySpace is for annoying high schoolers and your average 19 year old high school degree union labor kid. The perception is changing, though, as facebook has opened up beyond its college only roots, first to high schoolers and now to pretty much anyone. When you factor in all the "applications" the facebook has made available in recent months, it's looking more and more like MySpace every day. It's become pretty apparent to me that they are trying to go after some of MySpace's market share. In doing so, however, they run the risk of pissing off their core group of customers, college students. A lot of people I know aren't real happy about the change in facebook. It's probably too soon now, but the more facebook becomes the next MySpace the more opportunity opens for someone to step in with a new site that is reminiscent of the old facebook.

Trouble on the Intertubes

First up, an article by Cory Doctorow (the founder of Boing Boing) on the disconnect between how quickly automatic "immune systems" on the internet take action and how long it takes for a human to reverse the action.

ISPs are loading up their network centers with intrusion detection systems and tripwires that are supposed to stop attacks before they happen. For example, there’s the filter at the hotel I once stayed at in Jacksonville, Fla. Five minutes after I logged in, the network locked me out again. After an hour on the phone with tech support, it transpired that the network had noticed that the videogame I was playing systematically polled the other hosts on the network to check if they were running servers that I could join and play on. The network decided that this was a malicious port-scan and that it had better kick me off before I did anything naughty.

It only took five minutes for the software to lock me out, but it took well over an hour to find someone in tech support who understood what had happened and could reset the router so that I could get back online.

And right there is an example of the autoimmune disorder. Our network defenses are automated, instantaneous, and sweeping. But our fallback and oversight systems are slow, understaffed, and unresponsive. It takes a millionth of a second for the Transportation Security Administration’s body-cavity-search roulette wheel to decide that you’re a potential terrorist and stick you on a no-fly list, but getting un-Tuttle-Buttled is a nightmarish, months-long procedure that makes Orwell look like an optimist.


We need an immune system. There are plenty of bad guys out there, and technology gives them force-multipliers (like the hackers who run 250,000-PC botnets). Still, there’s a terrible asymmetry in a world where defensive takedowns are automatic, but correcting mistaken takedowns is done by hand.

Next is a piece discussing how the tubes themselves aren't big enough.

Consumer and corporate use of the Internet could overload the current capacity and lead to brown-outs in two years unless backbone providers invest billions of dollars in new infrastructure, according to a study released Monday.

A flood of new video and other Web content could overwhelm the Internet by 2010 unless backbone providers invest up to US$137 billion in new capacity, more than double what service providers plan to invest, according to the study, by Nemertes Research Group, an independent analysis firm. In North America alone, backbone investments of $42 billion to $55 billion will be needed in the next three to five years to keep up with demand, Nemertes said.

The study is the first to “apply Moore’s Law (or something very like it) to the pace of application innovation on the ‘Net,” the study says. “Our findings indicate that although core fiber and switching/routing resources will scale nicely to support virtually any conceivable user demand, Internet access infrastructure, specifically in North America, will likely cease to be adequate for supporting demand within the next three to five years.”


Internet users will create 161 exabytes of new data this year, and this exaflood is a positive development for Internet users and businesses, IIA says. An exabyte is 1 quintillion bytes or about 1.1 billion gigabytes. One exabyte is the equivalent of about 50,000 years of DVD quality video.
That's a lot of data. I can't speak to anyone but myself, but I know that my computer and a broadband connection is the one technology implement I couldn't live without. I suspect I'm not the only one who feels that way.

h/t: Instapundit

Swiss Air Force Part II, Electric Boogaloo

I've discussed them before, but seriously, if I was pilot qualified and interested in doing some real flying, forget the USAF, forget the Naval Aviators (capital N, capital A), I'm going to Switzerland:

Now that's some flying.

h/t: Op-For

Monday, November 19, 2007

NATO begins to get it?

I've ripped on NATO and specifically ISAF a good amount in the past, but this post contains some good news, for a change.

The Afghan National Army (ANA) will "probably by 2009 or 2010 be very capable in terms of conducting independent combat operations country-wide," NATO sources tell Ares.

"But they will need more time, at least to 2015, to be self-sufficient in all the supporting areas, such as recruitment, training, administration, and particularly supporting themselves logistically," the sources warn.

"Making the ANA logistically self-sufficient will be the most difficult challenge and take the longest time to achieve," Ares learned in a background briefing session at NATO Headquarters in Brussels.

In the last six months, sources say, NATO has become "pleased with the progress that the ANA has made. "Certainly in the last two-three months the frequency of platoon- and company-size ANA operations has really gone up."

This is to a large extent thanks to the work of NATO-provided Operational Mentoring & Liaison Teams (OMLTs -- pronounced "omelettes"), typically 20-strong teams of special forces-caliber instructors that are attached to ANA battalions to help them work up to combat readiness.

Most OMLTs are still provided by the U.S. but increasingly, NATO nations are stepping in to offer OMLTs as well, sources say.

The logistical news is unsurprising; the same is true of Iraqi Army forces. Both nations' armies will need outside support in areas such as logistics and fire/air support for a long time. That shouldn't detract from the good work the OMLTs are doing. Some particularly interesting news regarding who is stepping up to provide the OMLTs:

At a recent force generation conference, NATO nations the Czech Republic, Hungary, France and Slovakia all said they would send additional troops to join RC South. Of these, the Czechs and Slovaks reportedly are contributing a joint OMLT unit while France, too, will send an OMLT (the latter to be assigned to an Afghan battalion in Uruzgan province).

Georgia will also be sending some 200 troops to Uruzgan, while significantly two unidentified Arab nations (believed to be Jordan and the United Arab Emirates) have also said they will deploy a mix of regular combat troops and special operations forces to join ISAF (in Helmand and Kandahar province).

Outside of France, the NATO nations deploying troops are all part of "new NATO." Also interesting is the commitment from Georgia, given their level of domestic unrest. I'm sure the Arab troops will definitely be welcomed with very open arms. The more of them we can get the better.

Things could be worse, USAF edition

As most of you know, the USAF is facing a severe budget crunch in order to replace our aging aircraft and infrastructure. Things could be worse though. At least we're not Canada:

EDMONTON -- Canada's air force is trying to replace aging members, aging infrastructure and aging vehicles, its commander says.

"The main challenge I have is age, but not my age," Lt.-Gen. Angus Watt, the chief of air staff with the Canadian Forces, said in an interview Wednesday.

"We have a relatively old workforce in the air force," he said.

The average age of the force is 36, with non-commissioned officers at 37 and officers at 38 years old.

"We are a young person's business, so it is a challenge for me to recruit enough young people to keep rejuvenating the ranks to keep that average age coming down," he said.

Watt was in Edmonton as the keynote speaker at the closing banquet of an aviation trade show.

The air force, which currently has about 350 members in Afghanistan providing mostly transport duties, is also struggling to maintain its aging facilities such as hangars, control towers and runways.

"I have 13 wings, 10 of which have infrastructure and the replacement cost of that infrastructure is $6.5 billion," he said. "Fifty per cent of that infrastructure is 50 years old or older."

Canada's military aircraft are also feeling the strain of the years.

"The average age of the aircraft that I operate is 26 years," he said. "They are extremely well maintained, they are always safe but old technology comes with a price and the price gets higher because every year that passes it gets another year older."

At least we've got young people. How's the song go, 2 outta 3 ain't bad? Hey Canada, if it becomes too much of an issue, though, you can always just do what the USAF has done and fire all your old people.

h/t: Alert 5

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Big 2-1

Sorry if things have been a little dark around here the past few days. Friday was the big 21st. Went out Thursday night to the bars at midnight, had a wedding to attend Friday, and laid low and had some Black Label last night. The wedding and last night weren't too bad (for me anyway...there was free beer AND wine at the wedding and a bunch of AFROTC do the math), but Thursday night...well, I'm told it looked something like this:

I guess I'll have to take their word for it...

Anyway, I'm headed home today so don't expect much the rest of the day. Will appear when I can, probably sometime tomorrow. SJS has a real nice piece up on the B-58 as a result of the Navy coming in DEAD last in the Valour-IT competition; go check it out. Speaking of Valour-IT, thanks to everyone who contributed. We may have missed the goal but we still raised a heckuva lot of money and it's all going to a good cause, so thank you.

In fact, since we raised so much money and I'm such a nice guy, be looking for a reciprocal piece up on a tailhooking jet from the days of the straight deck sometime this week...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Midweek AC/DC

In honor of the Chinese public's desire to have carriers...a word of advice, if you will.

Monday, November 12, 2007

My A-ha Moment

People often say that the best way to learn is by doing, that you can read up and acquire book smarts on something all you want but that until you actually do it you won't have a good feel for all that it entails. I'm a firm believer in this philosophy and had it reinforced again last night.

Last night was another GLP (Group Leadership Project) for the Tigers trying to enter Arnold Air Society. GLP is a bit of a misnomer, because in this case what they were doing would be better termed war games. The scenario was that they were tasked with observing and reporting everything that happened on campus. The opfor (the active members of AAS) were to patrol various regions of campus and were able to capture the Tigers on sight, meaning that if we saw a Tiger and shouted halt, they were captured. However, the Tigers had one advantage. The opfor was in BDUs and were thus readily identifiable while the Tigers had craftily bent the rules so that they had civilian clothes on over their USAF PTs, making them indistinguishable from the rest of the students on campus. Of course, the obvious solution to this is to go up and check everyone who looks remotely suspicious. However, this really wasn't a viable option due to my desire to avoid freaking people out and not wanting to be obnoxious. The result was difficulty in finding any of the Tigers, including walking right by one who was pretending to talk on his cell phone.

The a-ha moment came when I was thinking about how difficult the exercise was and what, if any, alternatives we may have had to make things easier on ourselves. That's when the difficulty of COIN operations really hit me. The only way our strategy of open patrolling would've worked was if we had been much more aggressive in our questioning and observation techniques, which would've resulted in alienating the larger population. Blending into the population by losing the camouflage and wearing civilian clothes may have been more successful as it would've lowered our profile, but would probably still have only been a marginal improvement. The only real way to be successful in this operation would be to spend time over a period of several days observing who was where, who fit in, and who didn't. It would also have been a huge help to have been able to recruit people from the larger population to act as our eyes and ears. In other words, COIN 101. Stuff I've been reading about for the past few years and should have a pretty good basic grasp of. Still, doesn't really sink in until you're faced with the task of finding the proverbial needle in the haystack while standing out like a sore thumb in your BDUs. Also really brings into focus the folly of the U.S.'s FOB based Iraq strategy, circa 2004-2005.

Battle of Algiers, part II

Buck's comment on my previous post made me realize that most readers probably have never heard of this movie before, much less understand its significance.

First, in order to understand the significance of the movie you have to understand the importance of the Algerian war of independence and the French struggle against the FLN. Americans too often make the mistake of relating every insurgency back to Vietnam. The American experience in Vietnam was an important war in the history of insurgency, as the Vietnamese made several improvements and additions to the standard strategy, but in no way was it the most important. Vietnam after 1968 (and even before, to a lesser extent) wasn't really an insurgency at all. It's kind of hard to classify a war as an insurgency when the troops you are doing the majority of the fighting against are NVA regulars.

Much better examples are found in the French experiences in Indochina and especially Algeria. Britain's war in Malaya is also a good example, one that Lt Col Nagl uses to great effect in his book, but isn't the best because the British had several things going in their favor, such as racially different outsiders doing the majority of leading and fighting of the insurgency, fighting on an easy to isolate peninsula, and, to put it bluntly, a rather idiotic strategy on the part of the insurgents. And even then it took them 12 years. Something to think about.

Back to the French, the campaigns in Indochina and Algeria are particularly notable because the French lost both wars; however, unlike the American military after Vietnam they didn't bury their heads in the sand following the loss and instead put their efforts to figuring out what worked and what didn't. The result was some of the best counter-insurgency literature around.

Abu Muqawama (a great COIN blog, by the way...if you're into that sort of thing you definitely need to check him out) has several recommendations in this area, including a whole reading list. However, if you're too lazy to check out the books or you just like a good movie, The Battle of Algiers is for you. As I said in the previous post, it is balanced to both sides and even handed in showing the brutality even though it was made by an Italian communist and based off the memoirs of one of the leaders of the insurgency intended as propaganda for his militants.

The bottom line is that this would be the movie I would show someone to break them free of "Big Military" and to start thinking insurgency/counterinsurgency. It's not comprehensive, but it's a great start.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

What's on tonight

Go figure that an Italian Communist, of all people, would make what is quite possibly the best film about an insurgency and the effort to fight it. Evenhanded in its portrayal, yet unflinching in showing the brutality both sides committed, no one comes out looking very good, which unsurprisingly enough is what happens in a real insurgency. It's worth it alone for Jean Martin's monologue in the second video above. I've wanted to see this movie for a very long time and just happened to catch almost all of it on TCM tonight. Now that I've seen it, I'll definitely be purchasing it...or getting someone to purchase it for me. It is that time of year, after all.

Soulja Boy


Because it's 0430 on a Saturday morning and I have to park. Because it's Barney. Most importantly, because there's a certain someone who I'm parking with who absolutely hates this this one's for you.

Pay attention to the kid in the orange shirt...funniest part of the video.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Yet another reason why I hate MADD

How DARE those people fighting for our country drink a cold beer or three! They aren't 21, therefore there is no way we can possibly trust them to handle themselves.

This has been one of my pet peeves. Hopefully Uncle Sam's Misguided Children don't back down and instead expose MADD for the teetotaling old hags that they are. Like the author of the piece says, if you've got a Military ID, you should be able to drink. Period.

h/t: Radley Balko

Friday Spinal Tap

Here at the No Angst Zone, readers come first. We had a request from a reader for a feature similar to the Mid-Week AC/DC, only showcasing Spinal Tap instead. You request, we deliver.

But these go to 11!

Thursday, November 08, 2007


...summed up in one song. Definitely NSFW; no nudity or graphic violence, just gratuitous use of the f-bomb.

Sexual's bad, mmmkay?

Had the second part of the official USAF sexual assault training curriculum/video in class today. Because of that, I can categorically state that what occurs in this next video is definitely sexual assault.

Also, the USAF really needs to get some better writers for its videos. The production values weren't bad, but the dialogue left a little lot to be desired. Also, just so you know, if someone you know sexually assaults someone, you WILL get into serious accidents at work, you WILL crash your car, and you WILL fall into a deep pit.

Things could be worse, take II

The Afghans instead of the Iraqis this time, but same overall effect.

Valour-IT Gun Update

Chris over at The Anarchangel has quite the deal related to Valour-IT if you happen to be interested in firearms; specifically, those of the pistol variety:
Given how short we are of the goal, I take little solace in the fact that we are beating Navy.

So, I'm going to up the ante a bit.

Anyone who donates to ANY of the teams, send me a copy of your PayPal donation receipt for at least $150 (which I will verify with the folks at Soldiers Angels); and the person who donates the most, will win one of these, along with 5 magazines:

That is an FEG PA-63, in 9x19 Makarov. It's a decent little pistol, sort of a cross between a Makarov and a PPKs. It was designed as a police service pistol for eastern europe, so it's easy to carry, but the trigger is kinda heavy.

The pistol the winner receives has only been test fired, with all the magazines. It was purchased in either new, or arsenal rebuilt condition from J&G sales (I honestly don't recall. I think it is unissued).


Also note, this pistol would not be recieved from, transferred from, or won from Valour IT or soldiers angels; it would be coming from me, Chris Byrne. This is my PERSONAL inventive to anyone who supports a charity I also support. No-one at Valour IT or Soldiers Angels is in any way involved in this little giveaway. So, if some anti-gun lunatic wants to get all pissy, they can come talk to me about it, not Valour IT. Personally, I know what my readers like, and that's guns; so I'm tailoring my challenge to the preferences of my readers. It's called "effective marketing".
There is some legal mumbo-jumbo (damn ATF), but if you are interested in this sort of thing it would at least be worth taking a look at.

Oh, and regardless...donate. Please. The Squids aren't going to beat themselves.

...which is another joke that writes itself.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Things that annoy me

When asked a question by a prof that starts with "What do you think...", answering "Well, he would say," or "The readings would indicate..."

If the prof wanted you to regurgitate out of the readings, he would've asked. If he wanted your opinion, he would've asked. Substituting the readings for your opinion is just annoying and requires the prof to restate the question hoping your dumb ass will understand it the second time around.

Midweek AC/DC

Valour-IT Pic of the Day

Just wanted to extend a good job to the Air Force team for pulling and staying ahead of Team Squid. As I recall, the last time I tried to talk smack SOMEONE complained that the USAF (or USAAC at the time) would have trouble hitting a moving target...this moving enough for you?

But's a long way from that to this:

Keep it up!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Strategic Thinking

Herschel Smith over at The Captain's Journal has a very good piece up about Global Strategic Thinking, using the recent discussion about abolishing the Air Force as a springboard for discussing a lot of important issues facing the Armed Forces that are going to become increasingly urgent over the next decade. Money quote:

Empire building and self-preservation is the enemy of efficiency, and leadership, wisdom and foresight must come first from the highest levels of the Pentagon. For the first time in history, military blogs are read and digested by professional military, and actually have a role to play concerning open communication over everything from global strategy to unit tactics and equipment.

Globally strategic thinking is required, smartly applied to a collection of complex, symbiotic organizations. Thus far, the best that this community has been able to come up with is to bust up the Air Force and order them to report to the Army. We are off to a sorry and pitiful start.


Sunday, November 04, 2007

What getting hit in the solar plexus sounds like

h/t: QandO

Did someone say YouTube videos featuring people in painful yet humorous situations?


SJS put together a quite nice video for the Valour-IT fundraiser/competition. It's really very good, you should check it out. Good music by Al Stewart and some excellent footage, including some prop plane pr0n. Fokker tri-wing, Sopwith Camel, Mustang, Hellcat, cropped wing Spitfire, it's all there.

His title got me thinking about the best. ending. ever. to a movie. Kinda hard to top fighter jets flying off into the sunset with some rock music.

(Sadly no embed so you'll hafta follow the link.)

Of course, I can't let Navy planes have the last word, so here's what some real fighters look and sound like, with some help from Van Halen:

There's just something about a pair of P&W F100s that makes Van Halen sound that much better.

Friday, November 02, 2007

USAF Blogging

Figures that as soon as I start bitching about the lack of USAF blogs on the intertubes there would be some sort of explosion in USAF-related blogging. Ah well, I'm not complaining...even if the reason for the explosion is a proposal to abolish the USAF.

Anyway, some good discussion in this roundtable, involving, among others, John from Opfor. Some related thoughts over at QandO. Finally, Bill Sweetman delivers what quite possibly might be the definitive smackdown of the Farley piece. Has some good points regarding the fact that the UAV spat between the USAF and Army wouldn't even exist without the R&D the USAF did; a nice burn on the Navy for LCS and the Army for their "Von Neumann machine"-esque FCS; and finally, a reminder of something I had forgotten about: the discussion back in the '60s regarding the use of the fixed wing G.91 by the Army in a FAC role.

While I'm inclined to largely inclined to agree with Sweetman (as is the bulk of the defense establishment, which is why the USAF will be around for a long time), that doesn't mean I don't have some serious problems with the way the USAF does business. Look for more on that this weekend.