Saturday, October 02, 2004
Belsan in San Diego, or what I learned from Wesley E. Jordan, Jr.
Once again, great material is over in Little Green footballs. The link to the specific post quoting a news report regarding School Crisis Plan Found on Disk in Iraq. This story should scare you into next week, but in case you need to understand why, let’s think about this (for those who “get it,” see your calender has magically jumped two weeks ahead, are free to leave this post and move on to something else). To begin with, there may be some valid reason for someone in Iraq to desire to download this material and read it. In the optimistic view of the world, they would be planning on how to handle crises at their own schools. Come on, they were shooting school children with RPG-7s a few days ago, while the Marines delivered school supplies. Let me digress for a moment: These are Michael Moore’s patriots. Yes, those who are just doing the same as our forefathers in the American Revolution. They are honorable enough to come from surrounding countries and to use school children as ‘bait” to find our Marines to shoot at. A few off topic points. The “RPG-7” is an ingeniously deadly device courtesy of the USSR weapon designers and the Marxist Practical Joke® perpetrated on the world for about 70 years (with some vestiges still with us). It is a rocket propelled grenade, which has a “shaped charge.” Shaped charges are constructed to take a normally omni-directional blast from an explosive and “aim” the majority of the force of the explosion, so it is concentrated to cause maximum damage. The RPG-7 can penetrate the armor plating of some of armored vehicles, such as the Marine LAV’s and the Army’s Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Yep, good stuff to use in the general direction of school kids by “honorable” people. Makes me sick to my stomach to think about it, what about you? Back on topic. So it may be legitimate for someone to have this material, or….. I was assigned to a Destroyer Squadron for 25 months. I was supposed to be there 18 months, but somehow they couldn’t find a replacement for me. There was good news in that story. For the first 21 months, I had Captain Wesley E. Jordan, Jr., as my Commodore. He was a man possessing incredible intelligence, and an amazing ability to learn massive amounts of material quickly, but he was not the kind and gentle leader we on the staff would have preferred. ‘Nuff said there. “Wes” volunteered us for every type of operation he could weasel his way into. The good was we got exposed to many new things, and interacted with many other types of organizations we wouldn’t have otherwise run across, the bad news was 24 hour days were about two weeks shy of being long enough to get the work done. When we were “assigned” an exercise, or real world operation, the stops came out and we had to find every thing there was to read on the subject we could get, then we had to read it, digest it, analyze it, figure out, usually, how the “other guys” did it wrong, then come up with innovative ways to “do it better.” A great concept, now try doing it while existing on an hour of sleep a day and being yelled at most of the time you were trying to think it through. Great training for combat, with the constant injection of chaos, but it was rough. We dissected stuff like you couldn’t imagine. We called all sorts of people and made them talk to us. I was on the phone to a programmer who was the one to write the flight software for a cruise missile for days, so I could get the same formulas he used. From that information, I put it into our computers and modeled how we might exploit the strengths and weaknesses of the weapon for an upcoming operational test. The others on the staff were busy mentally “dismantling” other things in the process to do the same, then we put all this gleaned knowledge together and we did have success, and documentation of some more issues to correct with the missile. Entirely new tactical procedures were adopted by the Navy as a result. We showed there were upgrades needed to support systems for the information used to target the system and within months, new computers were going aboard the ships. The impact of the work of our 10 man staff had immediate and lasting effects. A few years later, the knowledge I acquired was used to make changes to the Joint Chief’s of Staff Rules of Engagement, a US military wide set of rules for use during combat. Moral of the story (after the testimony of Wes Jordan’s leadership): If you’re planning something, get your hands on anything that seems even loosely related to the matter at hand. In the reading you will see how the enemy forces, friendly forces, neutral parties, weapons, and the environment will all factor into the equation. Wes said, and it has proven itself again and again, in and out of the military for me, “Know the enemy capabilities, know your capabilities, know the environment and THE PLAN WRITES ITSELF!” We became hated and loved by those ships, aviaton squadrons, submarines and afloat and shore staffs we "interacted" with. Because of Wes' insistence to work like this, we changed may people's minds, tactics and procedures in a variety of areas. Does the person, who has ties to the Iraqi insurgents, have peaceful plans to use this material to help model Iraqi school systems so they can protect the children in fire, earthquake and flooding conditions, as well as a terrorist/Colombine/Beslan type assault. Or is this material there for the specific purpose to identify the strong points to avoid and the weak points to exploit in an attack on a school in the San Diego school district? Side note. In both WWII, and the Cold War, our adversaries at the top level were know to be terribly frustrated with the way we fought. It is a particularly American trait to plan it out, write it out, then put it on a shelf, and when the time to follow our “doctrine” comes, we improvise and destroy them with something we didn’t expect. We can pray the plans for San Diego are executed in the same manner, if they are attacked. Thank you, Wes Jordan, for your leadership and bone crunching style of people management. It was in that crucible that I learned many valuable lessons that have served me well to this day.