Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Psst! Go "Over There!"

In case you missed it, this is now the archives or the "junior blog." The postings have moved


Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Time to Move....

I've been exploring the wonders of Wordpress and my own domain. I've begun the blog over there, but find it easy to just do the simple thing here on blogger.

So, I'll be moving the bulk of my work over the I tried importing everything, but somehow a small bit of postings (like all of 2005) didn't move over. I have been hanging back, and not pounding on it lately to figure it out, but I'd just have to go back and edit a lot of links anyhow....

I haven't completely gotten up to speed on getting the right files pointing at the other right files, and I'll be fiddling with the layout for at least the next few days, so if if you're not getting there, don't give up, just try later.

I'll leave this up as the archives, and have a link at the top of the blogroll section on the new site right now. My blogroll is presently quite limited, because I just have to type them all back in (if any one has a better way to shove them into MySql, please clue me in!).

I'm looking forward to improved capabilites, such as categorizing posts, to make it easier to dig around by subject.

If you have me blogrolled, please take a few moments and update your blog templates, or what ever format you have them in.

See you on the "other side!"

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I Think This Would Qualify as an "F" Ticket Ride

People with imaginations...and a copy of PhotoShop are to thank for this creation...

I'm sure Lex would agree this would break the "letter barrier" and we could refer to experiences such as this as "F ticket rides."

42 Years (and two days) Ago in a Country Far Away

Note: I did this a few days ago, but lost the post, so it's late for the anniversary, but still worth taking a moment to consider this bit of history.

It was on this day, May 7th in 1954 that the French forces in Vietnam surrendered to General Giap, culminating the "57 Days of Hell," at a place now burned into the collective military knowledge, as a seminal battle, Dien Bien Phu.

The official website for the battle is here.

There is much to study and much to learn from this battle. Some might argue that we (the US) should have been supportive the man we call Ho Chi Minh in the aftermath of WWII and the subsequent strife in the region could have been avoided. Certainly, William Lederer, a retired Navy Captian with significant experience in SE Asia, tells an interesting story in "Our Own Worst Enemy". I first found this book while at the Naval War College in 87-88 and I have recently purchased a used copy and begun re-reading it. The book was published in 1968, and he prophetically listed a number of major factors that were not going well for us. The most striking, in my reading, was our lack of our understanding of the culture and history of the Vietnamese, and the great regional history, added to the exceptionally limited number of Americans who were literate in Vietnamese. Bill Lederer, on page 54 of his book describes a chance meeting in a bomb shelter in China, while waiting out a Japanese bombing raid, with a Jesuit priest and his assistant , Mr. Nguyen. After the raid, they went to the river gun boat and provided a copy of the US declaration of Independence to this oriental gentleman, at the request of the priest. The story seems to hold together well, when you read this document from Sept 2, 1945 (less than a month after VJ Day).

It begins thusly:

All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.

The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the Citizen also states: "All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights."

Those are undeniable truths.

Other reading tells us Ho Chi Minh actively supported the OSS in conducting guerilla warfare against the Japanese forces in the French Indochina region.

The net result, at the end of the war, is we didn't support freedom for all, but President Truman responded to the request of the French to allow them to return to their SE Asian colonies. The Japanese prisoners were armed and put to work ferreting out the Vietnamese nationalists, and assisting the French in re-establishing control.

Back to William Lederer. His book describes a people who once fought 1000 (yes, ONE THOUSAND) years agains the Chinese conquerors. I'd say that shows a cultural mentality of long term thought. By the way, the Vietnamese fought until they prevailed. That's a lesson in "stick to it-ness" if I ever read one.

Along the way to our effective withdrawal from the region in 1972, the French felt the fury of a people determined to be their own controlling authority. The French were overcome in a valley base of Dien Bein Phu. Bernard Fall wrote the early story of the battle, "Hell in a Very Small Place: The Seige of Dien Bien Phu". Obviously, because of the significance of a battle, where a large industrial nation's defeat by peasant farmers occured in the post WWII period, many other documents and studies have been conducted.

Miscalcualtion? Entangling alliances? Over confidence? Arrogance? Greed? It happened, its still a story in heroism and strong wills in battle.

"Proud" releases on DVD Today

Today is the day when you will be able to purchase a story of WWII, of heroism and also of the racial integration of the US Armed Forces.

Produced by Ally Hilfiger, it's a story worth studying. The movie was also shown during the Tribeca Film Festival.

The reporting this bit of history about the crew of the USS MASON (DE-529) is available today on DVD.

Here is the Amazon.Com link to order it.

I've previously blogged a little about the story in a post here.

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the trackback.

Thanks to OTB for the Traffic Jam!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Butchers Who Want You to Back Off and Go Home

Disgusting and that's not strong enough a word for this blatant effort by the Islamic terrorists to make even more people cringe and turn against the war in Iraq. In fact, they want you to step back from the entire GWoT. The only problem is as you step back, they step forward.

I have regularly asked (in a virtual rhetorical format via this blog) just where are all the NOW women, and I now call to the male "feminists" as well. What's your response to the throat slitting of Atwar Buhjat?

At some point, you whiny liberal, "peace loving" people, I have bad news for you:

If you persist in your efforts to derail the free world from taking this group of criminals and sadists down, who have not perverted their religion, they are just strict adherents of the teaching of Mohammed, one day your back will be against the wall and your throat will be next.

How ironic, you call for peace, it is peace through weakness. These people were breed in a part of the world where to show a lack of strength is not only losing face, but also designates you as a target for attack. You have to study the cultural issues before you pontificate from your safe place, having grown up in a society that is full of compassion for those around them and that doesn't resort to killing anyone who sends a signal that they are a threat to the current person in power.

Most unfortunately, you cannot stop improperly used strength by having none of your own. It's a nice thought that one day we could, but while the president of Iran threatens to build nuclear weapons, and use them for no other reason then to destroy a culture he has been raised to blame for his own countries ills (sound familiar? Yep, same argument Mr. Hitler used to get into power in Germany in the is happening again), I'd think you'd be buying plane tickets to go to hold up your daiseys in Teheran and also Sadr City, but there haven't been any news reports of a mass migration of "peace loving people" in the news. What's wrong? Afraid you'll be carted off to prison and your lawyer friends won't be able to get you out on bail before you are tortured (maybe with an electric drill) before you are summarily beheaded or shot in cold blood?

Go ahead...keep it up, they'll be sure to thank you by shaking your hands for your efforts to defeat George Bush, and any other president who will do the hard and right thing to protect us, before they place a hand around you, in order to keep you still while they take their 8" blade to your jugular arteries.

Now, a solution, for I hate "idea men" who can only complain, but not give you a way to fix it:

Your only hope, in the long run, is to not only support the troops, but to support the war. Thank the young men and women who daily sit 6000 miles from their family just for you. They may not know you, but they know you love freedom as they do, and they have the courage to raise their right hand and make the commitment for all of us.

In the short term, get your letter writing campaign to the terrorist leaders and the president of Iran. Tell them to stop, and boycott their products and services (oops! Pardon me, but just what is it they produce other than death, slavery and mahem?). How about booking your plane tickets to Israel, where you can be human shields to prevent another major event of genocide.

As for the women of the world, and Alan Alda, time to (SU)3!

Little Green Footballs reports the same story, but the comments on posts there are always good reading.

UPDATE 05/08/2006: It seems the video is not of Atwar Buhjat, who is reported to be alive and well, but the victim is a Nepalese truck driver. In some small way, that takes away from my rant above, but I still see it as a symptom of a gruop who has but one end in mind: Victory, and a will that is strong to pursue that.

H/T: Mudville Gazette.

42 Years Ago in a Country Far Away

Welcome LGF readers. Thanks for stopping by.

Now, to the featured event:

It was on this day, May 7th in 1954 that the French forces in Vietnam surrendered to General Giap, culminating the "57 Days of Hell," at a place now burned into the collective military knowledge, as a seminal battle, Dien Bien Phu.

The official website for the battle is here.

There is much to study and much to learn from this battle. Some might argue that we (the US) should have been supportive the man we call Ho Chi Minh in the aftermath of WWII and the subsequent strife in the region could have been avoided. Certainly, William Lederer, a retired Navy Captian with significant experience in SE Asia, tells an interesting story in "Our Own Worst Enemy". I first found this book while at the Naval War College in 87-88 and I have recently purchased a used copy and begun re-reading it. The book was published in 1968, and he prophetically listed a number of major factors that were not going well for us. The most striking, in my reading, was our lack of our understanding of the culture and history of the Vietnamese, and the great regional history, added to the exceptionally limited number of Americans who were literate in Vietnamese. Bill Lederer, on page 54 of his book describes a chance meeting in a bomb shelter in China, while waiting out a Japanese bombing raid, with a Jesuit priest and his assistant , Mr. Nguyen. After the raid, they went to the river gun boat and provided a copy of the US declaration of Independence to this oriental gentleman, at the request of the priest. The story seems to hold together well, when you read this document from Sept 2, 1945 (less than a month after VJ Day).

It begins thusly:

All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.

The Declaration of the French Revolution made in 1791 on the Rights of Man and the Citizen also states: "All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights."

Those are undeniable truths.

Other reading tells us Ho Chi Minh actively supported the OSS in conducting guerilla warfare against the Japanese forces in the French Indochina region.

The net result, at the end of the war, is we didn't support freedom for all, but President Truman responded to the request of the French to allow them to return to their SE Asian colonies. The Japanese prisoners were armed and put to work ferreting out the Vietnamese nationalists, and assisting the French in re-establishing control.

Back to William Lederer. His book describes a people who once fought 1000 (yes, ONE THOUSAND) years agains the Chinese conquerors. I'd say that shows a cultural mentality of long term thought. By the way, the Vietnamese fought until they prevailed. That's a lesson in "stick to it-ness" if I ever read one.

Along the way to our effective withdrawal from the region in 1972, the French felt the fury of a people determined to be their own controlling authority. The French were overcome in a valley base of Dien Bein Phu. Bernard Fall wrote the early story of the battle, "Hell in a Very Small Place: The Seige of Dien Bien Phu". Obviously, because of the significance of a battle, where a large industrial nation's defeat by peasant farmers occured in the post WWII period, many other documents and studies have been conducted.

Miscalcualtion? Entangling alliances? Over confidence? Arrogance? Greed? It happened, its still a story in heroism and strong wills in battle.

Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the open post.

More Humorous Signage

T-Shirt sighting: "Scars are tattos with better stories" I like it....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Even if it Tastes Like Chicken...

I don't think it would go well trying to slice this banana onto your Cherrios... Located on Worth 1000.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Operation "Forward Pass" - For Graduation Time

This post has been in the mental crock pot for a few days now. While checking my sitemeter log, I saw a hit from Instapinch, a blog of a former Naval Aviator, so I chased it. His post on graduation from college and heading to the cradle of Naval Aviation for AOCS has motivated me to finish it and ask the rest of you to tossing your stuff into the pool of knowledge for the soon to be graduates in our country.

UPDATE 5/12/2006: A little more on the New & Improved blog...Yes, I'm calling for papers for this project!

In the weapons world, with one weapon system in particular I worked with, the future plan was to have the ability to fire the weapon from sea, and a forward observer, usually in an aircraft, could take control and "tweak" the flight path. The capability would be called "forward pass." I see this concept outlined below as a similar capability. Stick with me and read the post.

In my MilBlogging Conference AAR - Part II, I spent a few minutes drafting the types of military bloggers that are developing. In the case of the active duty and veteran MilBlogs, I see an opportunity I'd like you (in those two categories) to consider as we are coming up to graduation for not only high school, but also the service academies and the many colleges and universities that have ROTC departments.

And I can hear it now: "And your point is?"

Do you have any good advice for the soon to be military members, both enlisted and officer? Was there a particular "mentor" you had that gave you the best piece of advice you ever heard to help you transition into the military and you found out, by the test of time, that it was wisdom suitable for mention to those who will don the uniform behind us? Do you have antecdotes, "sea stories" or the like, that will provide some valuable insight? Your stories, posted for the next genration of warriors, is hereby dubbed "Operation Forward Pass."

Have you already taken the time to provide same to some family friend, young workmate, or relative, that you could share with the blogsphere?

If you have a well read blog, yet have no stories to pass on, but have a target audience of those who are coming up on joining, you could link to the posts that come up on other blogs? I think this would be a great topic area for blogs written by family members of current military personnel, for they most likely are already attracting a readership of parents and spouses of soon to be military members. The extention of the stories through these blogs would greatly expand the "max effective range" of such knowledge.

In the couple of years I've been reading blogs, there have been several powerfully written posts such as this, sometimes taken from email, or letters of others kind enough to send them to a blogger. There may be enough wisdom already written to quickly do a summary post of a blogs posts, linking to the good stuff used already.

There have been a few DEPers out there blogging, and they have gotten some great inputs from others. I recall last year, a USMA Cadet had a blog up, and there was lots of good stuff sent his way.

If you're a DEPer, or ROTC/Academy type and blogging, you could certainly share the advice you're received as you approach the day you will raise your right hand and swear to defend The Constitution.

Take a minute, consider the wisdom you have gained with regard to your entry into the profession of arms, and see if it's fit to recycle for the next generation. Who knows what the max effective range of your blog just might turn out to be several generations...

So, what do you think? Should we begin "OFP" now? Do we need a sidebar graphic for those particpating by posting their own stories, and those who will "autocat" them? There has got to be tomes of valuable insight awaiting those who need it, in specific and generic terms.

Not only will the information alone be useful, but it will give you a chance to honor the person who took the time to help you "assimilate." To provide proper attibution will give you a public forum to thank them and to let them know, or those who google them up, that they had an impact in someone's life.

I ask you to step up and share the pieces of discrete knowledge you have.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Maybe It's Time for This: Online Integrity

A short, but common sense list of princples has been posted at Online Integrity:
# Private persons are entitled to respect for their privacy regardless of their activities online. This includes respect for the non-public nature of their personal contact information, the inviolability of their homes, and the safety of their families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted. The separateness of private persons’ professional lives should also be respected as much as is reasonable. # Public figures are entitled to respect for the non-public nature of their personal, non-professional contact information, and their privacy with regard to their homes and families. No information which might lead others to invade these spaces should be posted. # Persons seeking anonymity or pseudonymity online should have their wishes in this regard respected as much as is reasonable. Exceptions include cases of criminal, misleading, or intentionally disruptive behavior. # Violations of these principles should be met with a lack of positive publicity and traffic.

Sound reasonable? Doing it already? Sign up...

Wow! Look at Us Bloggers Go!

Interesting analysis on "The State of the Blogosphere" using Technorati data @ Sifry Alerts Blog:
Part I and Part II.
Excerpts to tease you into reading the posts:
New blog creation continues to grow. Technorati currently tracks over 75,000 new weblogs created every day, which means that on average, a new weblog is created every second of every day - and 19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created.

Late last month, I gave a high-level overview of the growth of the blogosphere, covering the overall size of the data sets that Technorati tracks, the number of new blogs created each day, the number of posts per day, and the issue of splogs or spam blogs. To recap, here's the highlights of Part 1: * Technorati now tracks over 35.3 37.3 Million blogs * The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months * It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago * On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day * 19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created * Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour

H/T: Black Five.

Monday, May 01, 2006

101st Fighting Keyboardist Division...

The new logo off to the left is for those who desire to jump in an defend the defenders, using their keyboards as the weapon of choice...More at The Captain's Quarter's!

A Powerful Movie - "The War Tapes"

While attending the meeting at Fran O'Brian's and the MilBlogging Conference, I had the opportunity to meet Deborah Scranton and SPC Mike Moriaty. What's significant about that? Deborah, when offered the opportunity to go to Iraq as an embed, countered with "can you have the troops film their year and I'll make it a movie?" They told her, as long as she provided the cameras and got the soldiers to volunteer to help her.
The result is "The War Tapes.". This past weekend, the film was shown at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC.
The reviews seem to indicate the movie tells a powerful story, to a sold out crowd. as it was throught the eyes of three men who chose to take the cameras provided. Andi of Andi's World has her review. Note: Andi was the one who not only suggested, but made the MilBlogging Conference happen. Matt of Black Five also has a review of his sneak preview.
The movie will be making its way to theaters around the country starting in June. Get to the website and sign up in the community, so you'll get announcements on the schedule...

And Now for Some Light Humor...

Signage, in the form of bumper stickers and, in this case, a message done with white liquid shoe polish on a car's back window last Friday on the way home gave me a smile, and I'm sure the writer made one point, yet missed another: "Honk if your illiterate" heh... Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

NY Times and Unfettered Lies - "The War Tapes"

Short intro: "The War Tapes" is the chonicling of a year in Iraq by members of the Vermont National Guard. Several soldiers did the filming, with the cameras being provided for them by the film's producer, Deborah Scranton. Well, once more, the MSM/HBM, in the form of the New York Times has the gall to just make a statement that is absolutely wrong. Read the review of "The War Tapes" movie at the Tribeca Film Festival here. It's part way down in the NY Times article, between other movie reviews from the festival, but here is the false statement from the NY Times reporter:
It is fascinating to observe how a prevailing cynicism about the war doesn't undercut the deeply felt patriotism of men who assume that its goal is not the establishment of democracy in the Middle East, but the acquisition of oil and money.
Taking a look at the website for the movie, here are comments from Mike, one of the soldiers who did the filming, and one other who were there for the year deployment:
Oil and money? Actually I never said it was for oil and money. I support the mission in Iraq and its intentions. I feel the US Military is doing a terrific job in many many areas. I do think we are moving too slowly and too delicately. Too busy being nice and treading lightly. Its a war. I had an elderly Iraqi gentlemen tell me this weekend at the conference our problem is that we lost our "angry face". He went on to educate me how the enemy insurgents in the Middle East always have and always will respond to one thing and one thing only. Brutal opponents. Hell,maybe we should take some oil while we are there. We deserve it. Posted by: Mike M. | April 25, 2006 08:32 PM Funny. I don't remember anything about oil while I was there? Do you, Mike? We never escorted oil out of the country. In fact, the only Fuel I saw was being IMPORTED from the outside. Posted by: Kinsella | April 26, 2006 10:52 AM If the war is for oil then why are gas prices so high? As far as the war supposedly being for money,thats funny. Money for who? All I saw was money being spent. I just dont see the profit here. Profit for Halliburton maybe,but someone please tell me what other company is big enough and prepared enough to replace them. Dont get me wrong KBR needs some major belt tightening as far as I'm concerned but lets get off the Cheney/Halliburton thing. Its only for the sake of trashing the administration.Dick Cheney isnt in Iraq telling KBR to fix my air conditioner 7 times in 6 days and to charge the tax payer for every visit. The problem isnt them being there,its that noone can really watch the numbers and question them. NON PRODUCTIVE folks. That kind of whining doesnt help prevent another guy from getting blasted at 50 Alpha. Posted by: Mike M. | April 26, 2006 11:58 AM
The sad part is those comments will most likely never make it to the NY Times pages as a correction to a film critic turned master strategist by watching a few films. On the bright side, I suspect people who have believed this falsehood on the war for oil will now, based on the review, go to see it in order to gather "evidence" to support their beliefs. Once they have seen it, I suspect they will have found out Mr. Holden tricked them into seeing the war in a different light than they had hoped to, spoiling their agruments from now on. I will say, if this in Mr. Holden's intention, to cause them to enter the "kill zone" and to ambush that lie, he does the world a great service by making the film more widely viewed and understood. Side note: The NY Times film critic, Stephen Holden, seems to fancy himself as an accomplished psychologist, too:
When they return in triumph, two are suffering from signs of post-traumatic stress they are reluctant to address.
I think Mr. Holden should keep his day job and get a grip on reality. Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the trackback....

Friday, April 28, 2006

"Another American Century or Another American Civil War?"

From the great poster and former blogger, Fjordman, a regular commenter on Litte Green Footballs in the comments for this article "Muslim Groups will march with Illegals":
I am always working on several posts at the same time, now including one called "Another American Century or Another American Civil War?" You Americans need to understand just how much is at stake here. We are in the early stages of a world war with Islam, Muslims are working to get nuclear weapons and are openly calling for the physical destruction of the West. Your enemies are watching the way you are handling the illegal situation, and they are not impressed. Do you think the North Koreans or the Iranians are scared of a country that allows itself to be intimidated and held hostage by a bunch of Mexicans who shouldn't even be in the country in the first place? When you're a supwerpower, the line of separation between domestic and foreign policy hardly exists. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was impressed by the way Ronald Reagan handled the blackmail by the air trafic controllers. He simply fired them. This signalled to your enemies abroad that you were not going to give into black mail anywhere.
What is at stake here is your credibility as a superpower. In the longer run, it could be your physical security from nuclear attacks, perhaps even your very survival as a coherent nation state.
DO NOT give in to Mexican intimidation. Build the fence, and deport the illegals. Yes, ALL of them. No amnesty.
We are facing decades of what could potentially become the deadliest war in human history, where the very survival of Western civilization and perhaps human civilization in general hangs in the balance. We cannot win this without you. You are the indispensible nation, and if you break down, the rest of the planet is basically screwed.

Fjordman also has some thought provoking info at the Gates of Vienna blog. He has been reporting on the spreading problems Eurabia is seeing from the massive immigration without assimilation. Here is one of his recent posts: "New Oslo Peace Process".
He may be our Paul Revere for this time in history. Are we willing to consider his analysis?
Update 4/29/2006: Daily there is more international news, not reported by the MSM with any detail, on what lies ahead. I submit our "tolerance" of the "religion of peace" is doing nothing more than bringing on a world conflict, which, but all written history, begun as the followers of Mohammed spread their religion/politics across the middle east, into the Indian subcontinent, and then to Europe within about the time frame of one century. The fighting that has taken the lines of battle back and forth since then is what we are still engaged in. With the addition of nuclear weaponry, modern telecommunications and international travel by air, the battle lines are no longer measurabel on a map. Fjordman has it half right in his coming article, but I am rapidly coming to tne belief that the coming American Civil War (stay tuned for the Battle of the Illegal Immigrants on May 1, 2006) is merely a cover stroy for the coming global war on all things not Islamic. See this story on "Judgement Day", not brought to you by President Bush and his cabal of right wing Biblical friends, but another president that is quickly having his name become a household's not going to be pretty and the size of our amred forces will not be large enough to take it on as we are now. The draft will be for more than just the sons of Republicans, but for all those who do not desire to live in slavery to the thoughts of a 7th century epileptic.
Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post and Outside the Beltway for the OTB Caption Jam.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

MilBlogging Conference AAR - Part II

Part I
Editorial note: I thought I was in it Saturday during the conference, but I found it Monday driving home....
The comments from the conference are mulitplying (go figure!) and posted at Andi's World. Great reads all, but the best one is this one from Steve Schippert from Threats Watch just goes to show you how a simple effort can help someone else.
I added Black Five's discussion at the top of the entries, for I think it's worth keeping in our thoughts as we blog: What is the "max range" of your blog?
I've had a little time to think over the MilBlogging Conference adventure. Here is some detail to go with a "take away" point:
From Part I:
Top levels “take away” points:
1) “Stay in your lane” is good guidance. Blog on what you know. With a rule like that, you should be bulletproof if a question is posed about how factual your commentary is.

In regards to that direction, have you noticed how hard it is to tell the person who just told you their story that they are wrong? If they told you another person's story, it can be picked apart. When it's yours to tell, just what will they say? Nada...or they'll just whip out the ad hominum stuff and tell you how stupid you are. So...stick with what you know for sure.
The focus of 2/3rds of the Conference day was essentially discussions centered on blogging issues dealing with current world ops in the GWoT. Certainly, that provides an essential foundation for future MilBlogging, for the comments on "think carefully about who is reading this blog" is a fitting framework for all other blogging for the community (not a bad idea for everyone else, too...what if kids on MySpace posted based on what their parent's reaction would be...but I digress).
I see several subdivisions of MilBlogs and by wrtiing this, I think it will help frame what people are doing, as well as maybe someone reading this will realize they may have a part to play as well.
1) MilBlogs that are fundimentally daily diaries. Smash and CJ got their starts there, and so much of the active duty blogs today are in this "model." At the conference, CJ admitted this was his venting method during his time in theater, and Smash initially did it to get the word back home to his family (he has since matured, or "evolved" to being our BlogDaddy, so I'm looking for a present at Christmas this year). Begun as coping mechanisms, they are, in fact, history being recorded from a first person's view, with out the Monday Morning Quarterbacking. One other blog like this of note is no longer active, the 365 and a Wakeup blog of Capt Danjel Bout, CA National Guard, but is one of the finest pieces of writing I have found.
2) MilBlogs that are designed as support networks, out in the open bulletin boards. The panel discussion on this topic was amazing. The power of the Internet, combined with some family members wanting information, turned these early seekers into mentors for spouses and parents all over the country. Carla, of Some Soldier's Mom and Deb of Marine Corps Moms are two like this. Included in this area would be blogs such as Soldier's Angels.
3) MilBlogs written by non-active duty people with significant "discrete knowledge" and usually are analysis/commentary on geo-political/military matters. Not constrained by DoD rules, and also "out of the loop" of current tactical/startegic info, these blogs stand to be a powerful part of the "Army of Davids" that Col Austin Bay referenced several times during his conference remarks. The insight provided by these blogs can help either the MSM or just plain old citizens understand the issues in military operations more consisely. Threats Watch is one of these, and the work of Bill Roggio at The Fourth Rail is another of note. I would also put Eagle Speak here, for he runs a great blog on stuff that tends to the leagl side of maritime affairs, with piracy being a major topic these days.
4) Personal historical MilBlogs. Cheaper and easier than publishing a book, and you don't need an editor to tell you to do parts over...lots of veterans fit here, such as much of my current work. I have also found it quite rewarding to document storeis of many of the older vets I find.
5) Organizational blogs designed particularly to support the troops. There are many, but at the moment I'm thinking it's pretty late and I can continue this discussion later.
As far as the blogs mentioned above, I linked them for some quick examples, but I know there are many more that fall into the same groupings. My blogroll has plenty of them to pick from.
That's about enough for the moment. Again, as I got taught: to tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them. Here's the wrap up: By categorizing the main discussions of MilBlogs, I think it will help each blogger frame where "their lane" may be, and therefore keep the work applicable and effective in the greater discussions of our society. I also think the rest of the world will better know where to go to read, and some of them will realize they are an intergral part of the MilBlog community, they just haven't taken the time to get going yet. Later, it will help subdivide our networking for any efforts we undertake.
Comments welcome.
Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


During the return home from the MilBlogging Conference, I found that mythical place that so many other have..... So, one more mystery of life solved: Hog Heaven is a place witth an address... MilBlogging post-conference work delayed to watcht the Lightening play hockey the way it was meant to be: Full contact, helmets, gloves, sticks, punches all flying.... PS: If you want the full address, leave me comments.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

MilBlogging Conference AAR - Part I

Part II
I can’t help but feel something pretty powerful happened yesterday, and, with luck, years from now, about 150 of us can say “back at the first conference, we wore jeans and T-Shirts…none of this fancy black tie stuff was allowed!”
While the air of informality reigned, it was the meeting and greeting and putting faces to text, followed by exciting conversation and thought provoking panel discussions.
Top levels “take away” points:
1) “Stay in your lane” is good guidance. Blog on what you know. With a rule like that, you should be bulletproof if a question is posed about how factual your commentary is.
2) Don’t underestimate the “max effective range” of your comments. The well placed furor over Fran’s Steakhouse lease began when FbL’s not very big readership blog made those fateful remarks, that, within days, became national level news in the MSM! Other stories were told that indicated similar results, in the most unexpected manner.
3) Your stories relating to military life and issues can be a powerful factor in closing the gap between the military/ex-military and the non-serving public. Share them wisely.
4) A lady who does marketing for a living indicated the rise of the blogosphere pretty much coincides with the declining readership of the dead tree media. One more powerful point: They don’t augment their understanding of events with blogs, they turn to the blogs for info. Take a moment to soak that one in.
5) She also said psychology studies show when a message of fear is delivered via TV, the viewer connects “better” with the message, which also makes the viewer more attentive to the commercials. That means the fear produces better results for the advertisers, which means the show/network can make more dollars this way. It pays to make us fearful….
6) Chuck Z says he’s upset that the MSM doesn’t tell the bad. Interesting point that makes you go “HUH?” until you hear the rest. He told of an insurgent who gunned down his own nephew so he could get a shot at two of Chuck’s sergeants. That was never in the news. Other examples followed that one.
7) Also from Chuck Z, he says it’s a great feeling to walk into a wounded service person’s room and bring them a laptop that makes a significant change in their life. Valour-IT – it’s making a difference in a big way.
8) Given the changing sources of sought out information coming from blogs, we bloggers have become “accidental journalists.” I’d say not only is that interesting, it also should give us some reason to not repeat those mistakes we complain about the MSM making, lest we fall victim to them ourselves as time passes and this form of info sharing becomes part of the MSM of the future.
9) Our efforts provide “individuals with discrete knowledge.” Back to take away lesson 1: Use it wisely, particularly by staying in your area of expertise. Resist the urge to pretend you know more than you do.
More to come. I'm still enroute home and visiting.
Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the trackback!
Thanks to ARGGHHH! for the tracback!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

DC MilBlogging Conference

Some earlier info... The first session is over and the discussion was centered on the purpose and (implied) the responsibility of MilBloggers. I'm sure the main site is going to cover this well. The side discussions have been interesting. After thinking Neptunus Lex was this completely amazing writer of the "Rythyms" blogvel, I now know he has had assistance from a ghost....well, it's still good anyhow, and I understand how the ghost writing made the detail of another area fit the overall "look and feel" of reality the Lex so masterfully weaves into the online story. More later, but this is "from my perspective," something that was highlighted as to what we can do best in the MilBlogging universe. Thank you to Mudville Gazette for the trackback....

Semi-Live Blogging from DC MilBlogging Conference - Part II

Part I Lesson learned: When you are having the first conference and the population is largely those who don't post their pictures, tell everyone to bring one of those spring steel crickets, like they used with the airborne troops on D-Day. Got there at 8PM, the bar was packed and no one was discernably standing at the entrance, with a box of "Hello, My Name Is" stickers. I got a drink and stood back doing the visual sweep. I did notice a couple in one of the side halls, the women looking ever so slightly familiar. Another guy wandered in and leaned against the door frame, looking around. I told him he'd have to push up to the bar to get help. He said "I'm supposed to be meeting a group of people here at 8:30, but we don't know what each other look like." DING, DING, DING! It was DadManly. Hand shake, a chuckle, and then I approached the couple. It was Smash and spouse. Buzz Patterson zipped thru, and then we began to form up quickly. Andi had a stack of blank white name tags and the obligatory fat black pen, and those of us who had filled one table made ours. I then slef-appointed and figured the best way to meet everyone was to be the name tag person. Lots and lots of people showed up. Lots of good conversations, and nice to put faces and real names to the reading.... The discussions were from ackward, like "ummm...I haven't read your blog..." to discussions on the status of books, self funded trips to the 'Stan, and "I'm glad to see you here." It's late. Chap: Too bad you're on TAD, because there are a few people here you'd really enjoy. More later (no promise as to when)! Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Friday, April 21, 2006

Semi-Live Blogging from DC MilBlogging Conference - Part I

I'm checked in after a long drive and three family visits enroute, and will be heading to Fran's Restaurant tonight for the pre-MilBlogging Conference join up, but more importantly, to shake a few hands and say a few words of thanks to our service personnel, while trying not to interupt their free steak dinner. LCDR and Mrs Smash will be here, and I think one other tagged with being a navy type in the list of attendees. I'm looking forward to getting to know some of the people I have read much of over the last two years. I was hoping Capt Lex would make an excuse to make a cross country, but....he's busy, I guess, becoming an systems engineer.... If you're not already briefed in on the furor over Fran's lease not being renewed, go here, read and chase the links. Hilton boned this one up (even the MSM is writing negative things!). Fran is also looking to set up a fund to keep the dinners for the wounded personnel from Walter Reed going. If you have a few spare $$$, that may be a good place to drop them. More later!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Note to the Complaining Generals

Dear sirs: A caller to a radio talk show today reminded me of a man from history that should be your role model. The problem is, you all have now gotten out, and can't pull this off. Sucks to miss the opportunity to rush through a salinet and tear up the rear of the enemy, does it? Sorry, I digress, so to my point, three words: GENERAL Billy Mitchell.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Operation Praying Mantis - 18 Years Ago

I received a comment on my A Journey into History - Part IX that discussed my participation in Operation El Dorado Canyon 20 years ago.
The author of an upcoming book about the mining of the USS SAMUEL B ROBERTS (FFG-58), Bradley Peniston, left me a note indicating that 18 years ago today, the retaliation for the attack on the ROBERTS was conducted. That was Operation Praying Mantis.
Brad's book, No Higher Honor, tells the story of the crew of the ROBERTS, led by the Captain, CDR Paul X. Rinn, in their efforts that saved the ship from sinking, despite having a broken keel. The book is due out in June of this year.
At twenty-five knots, the sea came on quickly. Its surface, wrinkled and opaque, rushed toward the warship, split against the steel prow, and became a fleeting trail of foam pointing back toward Kuwait.
Four decks above the waterline, Seaman Bobby F. Gibson leaned over the forecastle rail and twisted the focus knob on his binoculars. His metal chair, bolted to the main deck just behind the bow, afforded a panoramic view of the central Persian Gulf. The 19-year-old from Walkertown, N.C., took in the scene one small circle at a time.

Looks like a pretty well written beginning...
Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Monday, April 17, 2006

I Had a Choice, Too

It's getting downright depressing when your "leadership" bails, then puts on suits and ties and whines like spamked little boys. On the other hand, it puts a smile on my face to see the all of a sudden (left wing) supporters (who used to think anyone in the military couldn't get a job in "real life") somehow believe the complaints of 6 former generals will cause the President to move aside the SecDef. That's hilarious.
I can't say every day in my 20 years was the way I would have done it. On top of that, I thank God it wasn't sometimes. I worked for some excellent officers who had plenty of practical experience at the profession to help guide me along. I enjoyed my time, overall, but a few days I'd like not to remember.
My first real choice came in 1980. I was coming to the end of my obligated time based on the acceptance of an ROTC scholarship. By then, I had served aboard two ships and had made one forward deployment and what seemed like on, due to the time spent out of homeport on a newly commissioned vessel (and most of it wasn't in some exotic overseas ports, but in beautiful Pascagoula, MS, in the shipyard). I thought several things could be done better and I made a choice. I could get out and complain, and have no real power to effect change, or I could stay in and work towards what was better than the existing conditions. I stayed.
I was sent ashore to a training command, where I had the chance to improve on the training I had received, for the new crews coming through my office. With the tutoring of many fine men in my shop, we, together, produced some outstanding results, which were widely complimented and recognized to the top levels of a major training facility.
I spent a tour as a Department Head. I had great role models from when I had been a Division Officer, but there was room to improve. Once more, with a fine crew supporting me, and two great captains, we did some spectacular things.
On a sea going staff, with a commodore who never saw a tasking, for us or anyone else, he wasn't willing to say to "my staff can do that!" I'll say this: The positive part was we got our fingers into all sorts of exciting things. The negative part was there wasn't many minutes (I chose that word carefully) left in the days to sleep. The personal management at this period of my career left somethings to be desired, but we all lived, even if the wives had separate plans to reduce our workload. I see a microcosm of the desrciptions of Secretary Rumsfield being a hard man to work with in that time of my life, under one commodore. We had to have done our homework and you better be on top of what was going on, or we got asked where we got our SWO pins from (you guessed it, the answer was provided many times: A cracker Jack box). Was it pleasant? Nope. Did it make a point? When it was over, was it recognized as a "teaching method" that worked? Yep. Would I use it? Nope (well, one time in a particular situation I did). I blended the message with other teaching/mentoring styles I had been taught, and I think I was effective.
As I worked my way up the "increasing responsibility" ladder, I had several occassions to either complain, or work to fix "it." In 1988, I did just that, and ended up actively working a side project for 5 years. Along the way, I had the opportunity to look some of my seniors in the eye and tell them they were making it essentially impossible on the fleet sailors and officer to comply, while I had to fail ships at inspections. My option was to roll up my sleeves and do something, while telling the big boss' staff to extricate body parts and rewrite directives. One four striper in particular, didn't like what I was trying to say at all. One weekend, I spent about 20 hours making an Excel sheet to graphically depict what I had been talking about. When he looked at that, he agreed and became the biggest proponent in getting it all changed. I didn't care he was presenting it to the Admiral as his plan, the fact of the matter was he understood and then was able to fix things. There are days I realize it sure didn't help me make the last few career steps, but in the end, the fleet did get relief and sensibilty applied.
There were times in the downsizing of the shore based training and inspection teams I was tasked to plan how to do it. I had plans submitted that were "modified" to the point of not being effective, but I said my peace, then saluted and gave a cherry "aye, aye!" and made it happen with what I had left.
I never made flag, but all I can say to the generals is I'm pretty disgusted and I expect more. Thankfully, no one I worked for has ever shown such bad manners. Sirs, if you didn't like what was happening, I say it was your duty to stay in and constructively argue your point, but to know when it was acceptable to try someone else's way to get it done. If it ever got so bad as to be intolerable, then it was your duty to submit your resignation, citing the issues clearly, but not to keep your mouth's shut until you can cut a book deal.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Journey into History - Part IX

Part I, Part II, Part III,Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII

As you might imagine from the previous posts, we were busy. For this set of ops, each CVBG would handle one target each, so deconfliction would be pretty easy. Having been in the Med since January and assigned to chase a subsurface threat that never materialized, this time the ASW Commander's Intentions message speculated there would be no opposition in that area. Not only did the Libyan's show little interest in coming out to sea to try to get a torpedo off at us, the Soviet subs had largely been replaced with surface ships over the last month, which we assumed was a strategic move to limit the possibility of one of their subs being engaged. Not only did the SOVREMNNEY DDG and KARA CG become our "tattletales," they had made it a point to stay on the north side of the formations, but always within visual range of the carrier.

Our CVBG had been in the western Med, at port visits. We had gotten underway and directed to steam to the north of Sicily. We "parked" up there, and then in the late day of the 13th, we were ordered to plan for a modified EMCON "A" transit of the Strait of Messina, that narrow passge between the boot of Italy and the island of Sicily. we would have to proceed single file, and with all our military radios and radars off. We would keep our navigational lights on.

THe Strait of Messina is a challenge, even in the daylight, because there is a ferry to the island and the captains decided they have the right of way over all others. There is plenty of other traffic, such as vessels coming from Naples and heading south and east, and then throw in the fishermen. Now, envision this all happening on a dark night, with a low, solid overcast, so any moonlight is eliminated as an aid to the lookouts and bridge watch teams.

In amongst all this planning, we heard the USAF was going to participate. The air wing weaponeers then had to shift their work to set up a two carrier strike on Benghazi, while the Air Force would take out the targets in Tripoli. Side note: The Libyans have renamed their city to Tarabulus from Tripoli. Thankfully, my staff didn't need to be flexible over this issue, so we settled in to set up planning the screening ship stations for the transit.

I don't recall what time we departed our staion north of Sicily, but it was well into the night. We took off at high speed fro the Strait of Maessina, and I was thankful that I would be able to sit back and watch my SWO counterparts in the BIDDLE's ship's company sweat out this exciting transit of the Strait. To the east, the glow of Mt Vesuvius could be seen in the night sky. The surface traffic of many types of commerical and private vessels in the vicinity was quite dense and I'm sure the conversations between the bridges, lookouts and CICs were all too busy that night.

Successfully transiting the Strait, our battle group reformed on itself and headed into the Ionian Sea (central Med). I swear it almost was like a cartoon, as we rushed at top speed down there, then put on the brakes hard, as the strike package began the launch. The operations were going as planned, at least from where I was able to listen, and now it was time to settle back and let the aviators do what they had been trained to do best.

Different from the previous operations in this series of showing the flag to Col Khadaffi, we had believed there would be subsurface activity. When we pronounced that, based on intelligence estimates, there were plenty of reported "goblins." The confidence in these contacts was usually the lowest confidence, but we still needed track them. We used DRT tracing paper over the charts of the Med, in addition to recording position reports in JOTS, and we constantly analyzed "time, speed and distance," to check and see if the postion was a new contact, or continuation of a prior ASW prosecution. This time, no one reported any subsurface contacts at all.

I made this observation about this night: Everything anyone did, who I had contact with, whether it be the radio communications or face to face discussions, was absolutley professional. Proper radio-telephone (R/T) and internal communications were crisp, and properly formatted. Call signs and codewords were used exclusively. Conversations were not any longer than necessary. We had the strike frequency put up in our CIC Flag module, so we could hear what was going on miles to our south. The data links were running exactly as they taught you in the school house and team training. Somehow the focus on conducting real world ops against a real enemy really focused the entire battle force.

Since I don't directly recall, I'll rely on the Operation El Dorado Canyon entry at Wikipedia, which says the strike happened at 2AM local time. I recall the "feet dry" call from the Navy Strike leader, and then it was dead silent a few minutes later as the planes cleared the beach and headed back to us, taking their nose count as soon as they called "feet wet." We heard each plane answer up. We then listened to the Air Force go feet wet and check for all planes. The count went well for a while, then when one number was called, there was no response. They called the pilot several times, then announced one plane was not with them. It was a sinking feeling.

Anyhow, the deed was done, 20 years ago tonite. I was there. It is my only claim to combat operations, and I had a seat near the head tables for all of it. One day I'll wrap this all up with some of the tactical things I observed/learned. I guess the most interesting thing for me in having participated was when I later went to the Naval War College Command and Staff course in Newport, RI, was how the Maritime Ops trimester focused almost exclusively on this operation. There was an EA-6B backseater named Ed in the same class with me, and we were the only two who had bragging rights about being in there. Many times, the class would get asked a question about operations and they alluded to situations/conditions/ops that were highlighted by the Gulf of Sidra ops, and we felt like kids who had been given answers to the test at the beginning of the school year. On the other hand, we'd answer questions with real world solutions we had seen, and we would be told "that's not doctrine!"

One day, I was asked to model the operational chain of command for a three CVBG, with a USAF component. I went to the chalkboard and commenced to begin drawing the "who would work for who diagram. Our moderator keot commenting from the back of the room, where he had gone as I went forward, "that's not in accrodance with DOCTRINE!" I finally looked at the Navy Capt and said "Well, sir, it worked fine for Adm Jerimiah!" then I turned around and went back to drawing.

Anyhow, suffice it to say, it was an experience!

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Sun 'n Fun 2006 Heritage Flight

My video was no where near this good, but here's one to follow up on my earlier post... Bonus video of an F-117 flying by..

Monday, April 10, 2006

Sun 'n Fun 2006 - After Action Report

Well, it's over today. Yep, the 2006 Sun n' Fun Fly In is seeing the last people leave today.

Here's a quick outbrief, but not with pictures of the actual event...those come tonight.

On Thursday evening, I drove Jim, Sr. (Valiant Glider Pilot of who flew under the Eiffel Tower fame) (the link is to part 1 of three...links to all parts of the antics of Jim and his glider buddies contained therein), to have dinner with those of the Stinson aircraft type (for he flew a Stinson L-5 under the tower).

They were not only gracious, and, having established earlier contact, had name tags for the two of us, and then proceeded to eat BBQ, and listen to Jim's tales of days gone by with great interest.

Due to other scheduling issues, we didn't get back to the Fly In until Sunday afternoon. We wandered about, found an SNV aircraft, which Jim referred to as the Vultee "Vibrator." They went from 120 HP Stearman trainers, to the 450HP Vultees.

I went off to see the F-22 Raptors and Jim got talking to another gentleman, who turns out, flew from the same field as Jim, only a year apart. They did a little reminiscing.

I got my 6 o'clock shot (yep, static, but I can't afford the gas bill to chase one) of the F-22, as a follow on to this post over at Neptunus Lex.

We wandered among the many palnes of various ages, me finding a Twin Beech, with a passenger door, which conjured up memories of jumping at Covington, LA in 1980 from said equipped aircraft. It's amazing how 10 people could actually build formations from those without being spread across two counties on exit. I got my SCR, with the jumpers there building an "8 Way" around me. Saw a C-47 (jumped one of those at Perris Valley), and then a few T-34Bs.

The "Legacy Fly By" was to be a TF-51, and F-15, and the F-22. I got a good spot by the fence and waited for the take off. Due to low clouds, they could only hot dog so much, but the F-22 didn't use a lot of runway. Next the F-15 made a bunch of passes, having to go to burner a lot, but a great low altitude presentation. To the south, the F-22 played about, just under the clouds about 2000', doing Cobra manevuers, until the TF-51 joined with him. Then the fun began.

The two aircraft commenced to do a little "DACT" (dis-similar air combat training). The F-51 turned some tight circles, with the F-22 matching him in speed and turn diameter. Impressive for a large jet to do that. The, the LtCol must have gotten bored, for on about the 10th circle, he vetored thrust and functionally cut across the circle on a spoke thru the middle and quickly joined on the wing of the TF-51, while the prop plane was still in the same turn. That's impressive to watch!

The F-15 finished it's passes and then joined the two other aircraft to make a three ship formation. From there, they conducted two "Heritage" passes, the TF-51 in the lead, the Eagle to port and Raptor to starboard. I did get a vido of the first fly by, without framing my subjects well....gotta love new equipment.

Next the Raptor pilot did his passes, most of the time without his afterburners on, and was just as impressive as the Eagle. Then he came in low and vectored the thrust to begin a vertical climb. It looked like someone grabbed the nose and shoved the tail underneath to get vertical. I'd not like to be on the business end of that maneuver.

Ok, I'll try to get the pictures up tonight. Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Friday, April 07, 2006

I'm Not Sure How to Title This

Chap has encapsulated, in his thoughts on career "circumstances" of his own, a lot of insight for the rest of us. Well, let me clarify: He seems to have said what many of us have felt. See the comments for thorough understanding of this. We all entered knowing the struture we work within is a pyramid. We, at the subconscious level, know only one person is at the top at a time. Some of us don't make it there (what a blinding flash of the obvious!). He discusses that type of issue, with far more clarity than I. Read his post and be rewarded with a very honest monologue about military life.

Why UXO Makes Bad Paperweights

Even if it looks really cool and has the possibility of being a great babe magnet, even before this incident, I have always declined to have percussion fired ordnance as paperweights on any of my desks...stick with electically primed is my advice. A 5"54 cal round will do nicely and can also be used as an anchor if you live in New Orleans and the hurricanes come.
The explosion also destroyed a computer keyboard, scattering some of the keys around Colla's desk.
So even if his fingers come out of this OK, he'll be having a hard time typing whole words from now on, too...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Day has Arrived - April 4th, 2006

Every since the introduction of Mac OS 10, I predicted the day would come when the morning headline, above the fold, in large print, would read:


The day was 4/4/2006, and it's been a long time coming. The OS 10 operating system, being built on a UNIX base, runs UNIX programs. It (obviously) runs Mac programs, (which is an interesting story about backwards compatability the Apple always supported - but that's another post). Now, with the Intel based Mac computers, Boot Camp (oh, btw, a free beta!)..."we" have arrived.

A pox on the houses of all of you die hard, brainwashed PC-ites, who, having never laid a hand on the mouse of a Mac, could, with a straight face, tell me "Macs are no good!"

The same to you who proclaimed "We have 25,000 programs, you only have 2,500!" Now we own all of yours and all of ours....

One comment (as Chapomatic likes to say): Heh!

Yep, I have a PC now, but you'll have to wait until Oct this year before I lay out my hobby equipment "ownership" post.

And if you think it's no big news, check Apple's stock. As of a few mintues ago, it had gone from $60 (yesterday) to $71 today. The Dow is presently "taking a dump" my investor friend tells me....hmmmmmmm..... Update: 4/7/2006: The 2 Steves Who Changed the World from CNN. How true...

A Journey into History - Part VIII

Part I, Part II, Part III,Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part IX

So life, the evening of March 24th and wee hours of the 25th were exciting. Quite honestly, it was also the closest I personally ever came to combat during my career, and then it turned out to not even be that at all. In this case, it was the closest I ever came to being connected (directly) to a major international incident.

As the sun rose later on the 25th, at least two of Khadaffi’s Navy ships were transmogrified into mobile targets for the battle force’s SUCAP. Later in the day, I recall a ship’s company sailor poking his head into our watch station area, proudly holding a black and white 8x10 picture of a smoldering NANUCHKA gunboat. He asked if we wanted a copy. I would have loved one, but then I thought back to a story one of my CO’s had told me of a story about pictures.

Gary Voorheis had been at a Wardroom party many years before, at the house of one of the ship’s officers. He told us of being ushered upstairs, where upon he and a few other officers were shown pictures of the USS BELKNAP (CG-26) just after she had collided with the USS KENNEDY (CV-67) in 1975. These were photos taken by the officer, with his own camera, and he had held onto him for several years. Back in “the OLD Navy,” the Navy’s policy was every, yes, you read that right, every picture taken aboard a vessel was Navy property. The common convention was, short of some major situation, no captain bothered to have all photos developed and examined for possible useful content, however, the regulation was in place. In this case, these picture of the post-collision damage fell under this regulation. To shorten the story, shortly after the party, I believe the Naval Investigative Service paid the officer a visit and confiscated the photos, and I recall significant (read career ending) repercussions followed for withholding evidence from the collision investigation board.

In light of that story, and not being certain of the possible classification that may be assigned to the photo of the unlucky gunboat, I declined. About two weeks later, when the stateside mail caught up with us, there were copies of US News and World Report, with the very picture of the flaming evidence on the front cover.

We gave Khadaffi's boys a big black eye, taking out a couple of SAM radars and at least two gunboats. My understanding is a thrid Nanuchka, with a little brighter skipper, was zig zagging between the ROCKEYEs lofted at him, and while he made it to port, the shrapnel left enough damage behind for the ship to sink pierside from progressive flooding.

The SARATOGA CVBG, taking ADM Jerimiah and the CRUDESGRU EIGHT staff back to the US. Just the CORAL SEA and AMERICA CVBGs remained. My staff transferred from the SARA back to USS BIDDLE (CG-34), and resumed our watches in the staff area in the Combat Information Center. The CORAL SEA CVBG began preps to turn over and OUTCHOP, too. Our last scheduled port visit was Benidorm, Spain (for the USS BIDDLE). On the last day of the port visit, we were informed we had been extended in the Med. That was quite a shock, but, orders are orders.

Side note: While we were involved in this series of operations off Libya, we began to receive mountains of mail from the States, courtesy of Operation Dear Abby. The history of that operation, which continues today, began with a letter from a BIDDLE sialor, even before we had left for e cruise. Early in my blogging days, I discussed the special support we received thru this project.

I also recall one day on watch when ADM Jerimiah was out on the Flag Bridge of SARATOGA, he beagn laughing and called us to come out and "see this." We pulled the curtain back to see a small commercial jet, which had been chartered by a news crew flying over the CVBG, and an gaggle of different Naval aircraft were all tucking in beside an behind it, trying to get on camera. I suspect that was the time the famous picture, of a crew member of an EA-6B Prowler was holding up the sign "SEND COOKIES" for the camera, that was widely published.

As we headed back to sea, and the planning began to rapidly develop for a Navy strike on Tripoli and Benghazi, one night, the USAF sent a "natiional asset" our way to recon the target areas. The SR-71 flight I blogged about last year, was what I saw, and my post discussed how I found out who the pilot was, LtCol Brian Shul, quite by accident.

Due to time constraints, I’ll edit this post later (most likely tomorrow), to record my view of the events 20 years ago today. Those events were the bombings of Tripoli (actually named Tarabulus by the Libyans) with USAF FB-111s and Benghazi with Navy A-6s. The event was named Operation El Dorado Canyon.

The blogger known as the Southern Air Pirate, now on active duty and part of the GWoT, realizes his father was in the same fight, but, there where I was 20 years ago today....and his dad went "feet dry" with VA-85.

Stay tuned for the details from my view!

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Got the "Need for Speed"™ on the Surface?

Do we call it the "Flyak" or "Foil Kayak?" In any case, who thought "up on the foils" was reserved for powered vessels? Maybe I can find one of these to crash, too!

Friday, March 31, 2006

The Army Armor Ban and Standards

One of Matt's guest bloggers, Laughing Wolf, has a post about the Army banning the use of personally purchased body armor. Admittedly, this has to have been a tough call for the chain of command and I'm sure there will be some backlash from parents, spouses and the media, claiming the Army really wants the tropps to die. Not true at all, but it's a hard thing to comprehend. An example I ran across back in the late 80s had to do with blankets (like the kind you use on your bed blankets). I was XO on a ship and had to put the word that all personal blankets were to be removed from the ship and henceforth only the Navy issue wool blankets were authorized. As cold hearted as that sounds, it was actually a way to preserve the lives of the sailors aboard the ships. Here's why: Essentially all blankets you can buy at the store on the beach, short of ones of natural fibers, use some sort of synthetic material for the fabric. This is fine in the house, but not on a ship because, when the "civilian" blanket burns, it produces toxic fumes. So, you retort: "Yeah? SO?, here are fires in houses, too!" Yes, there are. I reply: "And when your house is burning down, you run outside and get away, which puts you in an area of lots and lots of fresh air, which would dilute the toxic fumes. When your ship is burning, you have to attack the fire (enter the berthing space) and therefore go into an enclosed space, where the heated fumes boil down from the overhead, along with the smoke." By getting the blankets off the ship, we decreased the risk of serious lung injury to our men. That's all about protecting the crew from harm. Add to that discussion of blankets to the situation where a sailor dies in a shipboard fire, but from burns, but suffocation, and the autopsy showed the death was due to toxic fumes in the atmosphere? When that happens, the law suits will make the $400 hammers and toilets seats of days gone by like an a walk in the park. The public would be outraged, and I would submit, rightfully so, for the chain of command didn't make sure the sailors were safe. All manner of things are tested extensively, before being allowed for use in the Fleet or field, such as such simple things as ear plugs. Stuff bought off the shelf may or may not help keep your hearing intact, and it would be nice to know. The testing required by the Armed Forces is to make sure we are getting our money's worth, and the new item is capable of doing the job we asked it to. But, even more important than the research to make sure the product work, is the sacred trust the service members have in their Government to take care of them. One only has to look at the fallout of such issues as the use of Agent Orange without proper precautions to realize how vital this ban is, until the civilian companies equipment is proven to be effective. It may even come to pass that the civilian items of a particular manufacturer are better than the stock items, which will then get that manufacturer on the list to buy from at the Federal Government level. Back in the late 80s, my Commodore went from his staff job to being the assistant to N6 (the office in charge of all the Navy's computers. Wes Jordan was instumental in running tests that showed that the extra cost of verifying Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) computers was a waste of the taxpayers money. I saw a video tape that was done where they put an HP-9020 computer and monitor in a 19" rackmount and proceeded to run the Grade A shock test (considered a replication of the force of a nuclear blast), with a modification. They raised the hammer to it's maximum height, not just (I think) 8 feet high. On the 20th drop of the hammer, the monitor flicked off and the equipment, which had already exceeded qualification for Grade A worthiness (I think it was three drops to qualify - and from 8 feet, not higher), appeared to have been bested. Upon examination, the power switch for the monitor had been damaged, and upon replacement, the unit came up and the computer display was still there. THE HP-9020 itself took the licking and kept on ticking. The analysis was that even commerical clients were demanding computers and peripherials to be built to survive some rough handling, and HP, for one, was putting a product off the end of the assembly line that met MILSPEC standards, without each unit having to receive extra testing. Net result: We (the Fleet) got good COTS stuff for use in all sorts of tactical applications and the taxpayers reaped the benefits in big dollar numbers. The boost in our ability to detect and identify hostile targets, and then engage them with confidence in our targeting, was dematically changed, as our detect to engage times went from hours to minutes in one particular system I directly worked with. With luck, our groud troops will be benefactors of such an investigation, and we, as taxpayers will also see savings.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

YO! Can I Have the Ferrari This Weekend?

It seems there are people are doing the same thing with really cool (read: EXPENSIVE!) cars like general aviation plane owners have been doing for years....time sharing!

Anyone interested in a MilBloggers shared car? :)

Oh, and there is Ferrari wallpaper at this website...

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

A Journey into History - Part VII

Part I, Part II, Part III,Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VIII, Part IX

It was the early morning hours of March 25th at this point (around 0200) and there we were, the entire staff and almost all the augmentees, standing there in our watchstation on the Flag Bridge. I believe it was the 07 Level on the carrier’s island. All around us were the nominal things used to stand the watch: Notebooks, pens, pencils, dividers, parallel dividers, magic markers, tactical publications, message boards, and, don’t forget the coffee cups and Coke cans. These things, as some of you readers know, have another, more generic name: Missile Hazards. More on that in a moment.

In theory, the pair of Soviet built OSA missile patrol boats headed towards us "AT HIGH SPEED!" were each loaded with 4 SSN-2 STYX cruise missiles. In new math, that means 8 near supersonic, with a flight profile low to the water, weapons may be announced with the proword "VAMPIRES" any moment. Back to the missile hazards. Steve Nerheim was at one side of the chart table, and I was at the other. I recall I looked at Steve, and he had a wild-eyed look in his eyes, just before (and simultaneously with me) his hand grabbed for the latch on the top drawer of the chart table and proceeded (aided by my hand at the other hand on the other latch) to slam the drawer wide open, whereupon we both yelled "MISSILE HAZARDS!" and began sweeping every loose thing from the chart table top into the drawer. After that we grabbed and stuffed every thing in sight into that drawer, and then got to getting ourselves into battle dress.

The concepts of missile hazards and battle dress are generally introduced to most naval personnel during the endless days of "REFTRA" (refresher training), which used to be held at Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a place more often (and oh, so lovingly) just called "GTMO" (pronounced "git-mo"). The many and varied stories (of the same incidences in some cases) would fill screen after screen after screen on blogs by the hundreds, but almost all of them would mention something about missile hazards or battle dress. Missile hazards, as deemed by common sense, once you get by the fact the GTMO Fleet Training Group (FTG) sailors were "making you do it," is anything that the force of a close by explosion may be able to impart enough energy into it so as to damage the human contents of the surrounding vicinity of said missile hazard. You come to hate the thought of dealing with the lost point for things like the "left behind" paper clip the FTG guy is holding in your face just before the ship is cleared for getting underway for the day’s training, with that "I just nailed you for one more point off your exercise score, buddy!" look on his face, but after a few weeks, you begin to unconsciously scan your vicinity constantly for loose items. It’s bad enough to get nailed at the beginning of the day, but more irritating when you use some object, such as the dividers to measure something on a chart, and then carelessly put them down on the chart, and, as luck normally has it, right under the nose of the exercise observer, who, once more, smiles and lifts his clip board to make a note about another point off.

That being said, when real, high speed ordnance may be in your future "real soon now," you immediately recall the laws of physics, and some rudimentary biology that says that coffee cup over there is gonna leave a mark if I leave it sitting on the frame stringer just behind the chart table. It’s sort of like Steve and I, having served in different commands to get where we were, "got religion" on the topic when this scenario presented itself.

Battle dress is the other thing sailors love to hate and do just about anything to justify not reconfiguring their clothing in order to satisfy the little tyrants the FTG guys seem to be. Battle dress amounts to a real fashion statement. Consider the well dressed (for work) sailor, chief or officer (not in the new BDU knock off stuff) with the bottom of the bell bottom or khaki trousers stuffed into their black socks above their shoes, the normally open shirt collar buttoned all the way to the top, and the long sleeves rolled down and the cuffs buttoned. It does look very strange, and, once again, when you consider the purpose, it is something meant to keep the exposed skin to the absolute minimum. In the in most every training scenario, the outfitting also meant scrambling for the locker in the space that held the gas mask bags, each one normally labeled for the crew member it was issued to/fitted for. Picture strange shaped olive green or medium grey footballs with waist straps flying across the space as someone answers up to the name just read off the stenciling. In the late 80’s, we adopted the crew wide issuing of anti-flash gear, which included opera length gloves and a pull over hood, with the open hole for your eyes and nose to be exposed though.

I’ll admit, I missed out completely on the opportunity that most every other service member experiences: The tear gas chamber. I was in GTMO for refresher training in early 1985, while assigned to USS CONOLLY (DD-979). We were going to be import for the weekend, but the Saturday morning schedule had most of the crew set to attend this wonderful opportunity to appreciate the wonders of low level chemical warfare. On Friday evening, they sent us a schedule change that sent us to the base school auditorium instead. Our training involved listening to a Royal Navy LT, who was currently assigned on an exchange tour with Fleet Combat Training Center, Atlantic as a Tactical Action Officer (TAO) course instructor. That assignment was not the basis of his talk that day. He spent several hours talking about his experiences in the Falklands War. He had been the Weapons Officer on one of the destroyers that was hit with and sunk by an Exocet cruise missile. He had been rescued and then was aboard the frigate that had had an Argentinean dumb bomb, unexploded, lodged in the engine room that exploded when the EOD technicians were attempting to safe it. That ship sunk also. As you might imagine, despite the significant exhaustion that GTMO instills, no one was sleeping in the gym that day.

He talked about the effectiveness of anti-flash gear in various parts of the presentation. He said you could tell those who did not like to wear it and had pulled the lower part of the flash hood hole down under their chins. He said when the fireball caused by the unused fuel of the cruise missile ignited and swept through a space, those with exposed skin bore the damage, from surrogate sun burns to significant burns all over their face. He also discussed another physics topic, which was about the property of colors to transmit heat. One ship’s commanding officer had labeled his flash hood with "CO" on black magic marker on the forehead area of the hood. Despite wearing the hood properly, that captain will forever go through life with “CO” burned into his skin, in the same manner that the colored patterns of the kimonos the Japanese women were wearing during the atomic bombs dropped caused their skin to be marked where the darker colors in the fabric patterns was. That part of his story stayed with me to the end of may sea time.

While the brief moments of time were passing in that watch station, with everyone kicking into GTMO muscle memory mode, the SARATOGA Surface module crew ordered the airborne SUCAP (Surface Combat Action Patrol) to intercept the OSA boats. We had the ASUW circuit up in one of our many speakers and I remember the section A-6 lead calling asking if the ship was sure there were OSA boats out there, for the area where he was sent did have a ship, but he said it "had a lot of lights on it." That reminded me that before the cruise, I remember there had been a push to make sure the Air Wing A-6 assets where equipped with TRAM pods. These "pods" were multi-function sensors mounted beneath the radome of the aircraft, and they were articulated to allow the aircrew to steer the cameras and laser designators around. Included in the sensors was low light level television. The section leader of the SUCAP, despite the urging of the ASUW talker to engage the targets with Harpoon, spent a few extra moments using the available tools to ensure he was doing the right thing. What he reported back was he was breaking off the attack because it wasn’t OSA boats, but a cruise liner, with all sorts of deck lights on, and it was doing 16 knots, not 42. Moral of the story: Make sure everyone has their heads in the game, and you’ll not make stupid mistakes that cause nations to have to apologize to most of the citizens of the world for engaging a "white" (neutral) target in the fog of war.

And this ends my recollection of the events of March 24th and 25th in 1986, in the central Ionian Sea, aboard the flagship for Battle Force ZULU. It is not, however, the end of the tale of the beginning of the offensive phase of the GWoT.

Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A Journey into History - Part VI

Part I, Part II, Part III,Part IV, Part V, Part IX

The operations had been intense. Standing Port and Starboard watches in pairs, it was usually LCDR Al McCollum and I. Al was a P-3C ATACCO guy, and I had spent my earlier years "driving" ships. For two decision makers running 9 ships, all the ASW related air assets from three carriers and all the helo equipped "small boys," and then all the shore based airplanes out of Rota and Sigonella kept us pretty busy.

We had a lot of work up time, and at our prior sea tours, a pretty good bit of ASW work. This was different. For the first thing, there was no way to beg, borrow, steal, or sneak a peek at a schedule of events (SOE) for the "bad guys." Now the "bad guys" were not some our our guys, or allied guys. They were the real deal with a twist on top of it. Twist: The Soviets had subs in the Med, and the Libyans had subs in the Med. Why was that sigificant you ask? Well, the Libyans had purchased Foxtrot class diesel subs from the Soviet Union.

Guess what the Soviets had deployed to the Med during this episode? You got it, Foxtrots....So, since there is potentiall now "daytime" when you are doing ASW, meaning you can't hang back until the sun rises to get a visual to confirm your other sensor information, if a subsurface contact, that had the acoustic and other characteristics was dtected in a threatening posture, would an order to engage bring on WWIII with the Soviets, or would we be the heros? Thankfully, we never got to find out.

It had been a long day, Mar 24th, 1986, punctuated by some fun in the late afternoon. Khadiffi had two SA-5 missiles at our Combat Air Patrol (CAP) F-14s flying over the Gulf of Sidra. This fell under that magical definition of "hostile act" in the Roles of Engagement that every warrior longs for, as the response that follows is solidly supported. Shooting back on "hostile intent" is a lot stickier. So, the "SAM! SAM! Vicinity SURT!" calls fill the net. The strange thing is the SA-5, being a semi-active guided missile, needs a separate tracking radar to be diriecting energy at the target, thet the missile receivers pick up and fly to. The "illuminator" radar signal wasn't detected, indicating the missiles had been fired in a purely ballistic mode, and therefore had a snowballs chance of hitting a target, unless the pilot was dumb enough to fly into the missile's path. Our were not. They banked clear of the area, and moments later, as I recall, AGM-88 HARM Missiles were fired from the rails of the waiting A-7 Corsair IIs, that had been trolling along below the search radar horizon of the SAM sites. Oh, yes, the HARMs did their job quite nicely, taking out the search radars.

So Khadaffi now had his "money shot" for his Arab brothers, showing how he took on the great Satan, with out the risk of actually taking out any US military assets, which had the demonstrated potential of leaving us in a quandry over how to respond. I recall debating with CDR SMith, the CCDG-8 Intel Officer and ROE Officer, if that firing truly constituted a hostile act, since the missiles technically couldn't have hit anything. He assured me it was a hostile act.


On March 24, six SA-5s were launched from the new missile base at Surt against American aircraft. None was hit, however, because the SA-5, with a range of 240 kilometers, could threaten high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft over the Gulf of Sidra but was relatively ineffective against high-performance jet fighters. Subsequently, the missile site was put out of action by carrier-based A-6 Intruders firing High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles (HARMs), that homed in on the Libyans' radar guidance signals. A second strike followed the next day to knock out a replacement radar unit. Although Soviet technicians were believed to be present to oversee the installation and operation of the SA-5 batteries, none was reported injured in the exchanges. At the same time, a French-built Combattante-class missile attack craft was destroyed when it approached United States Navy ships protecting the aircraft carriers. The Libyan vessel was hit by two Harpoon missiles launched from an A-7 Corsair aircraft
I disagree. The SAMs didn't hit our planes because they didn't have radar signals to guide on. Also, about 2000 (8 PM) that evening, one of the A-6 Intruders found a Libyan La Combatante class patrol gunboat sailing north of Tripoli (not an A-7, the call sign of the spotting aircraft was in the 600 series (602 I think), which would have been one of the A-6 squadrons). We had the Surface Combat Air Patrol (SUCAP) radio circuit patch up to our watch station and heard the report. The PG was steaming along like it didn't have a care in the world, and I suspect they were not alerted to the fact that US forces had been engaged that afternoon. Anyhow, the ASUW radio talker asked what load 602 had aboard, and the response was "ROCKEYE." ^02 was ordered to "Take the La Combattante." and acknowledged the order. We waited several minutes, the net was silent, when finally the ASUWC takler asked for a "BDA" (battle damage assessment). 602 came back and said "we got them with Harpoon!" The next comment was "But you had ROCKEYE" "6XX had Harpoon, so we had them do it." we figured 602 was a nugget crew and were afraid of a close in pass against a gunboat with a surface to air capabillity, so they got on Sqaudron Common and asked if anyone up had Harpoons loaded. Next over the net was direction to use ROCKEYE, and then look for survivors. The two attack sank the La Combattane. This was the first combat use of Harpoon.

About an hour later, we heard that the F-14 in CAP Station 5 was yelling about taking "Triple A" fire (anti-aircraft artillery). The USS YORKTOWN (CG-48) hustled off to the west to fix the problem, and reported a very high speed target inbound. They also fired Harpoons at the target, but there were no indications of any targets being hit. Post combat analysis showed the fog of war may have settled in and the AN/SPY-1 system may have had a spurious signal display, as the "target" was showing altitude and much faster speed than the La Combattante could acheive. For the next few days, O mulled over the sequence of events and went up and pulled out our plots from that evening. I back plotted CAP Station 5 from the operational tasking of that night and the area where the A-6s had attacked the La Combattante several hours earlier and CAP Station 5 we very close together. I suspect the aircrew saw the aftermath of the sinking (maybe not fully sunk by that time) ship and thought the fires and secondary explosions were AAA.

My watch was to end at midnight, but as was the custom of the Commodore, things got crazy, and the relief by LCDR Steve Neheim didn't happen until almost 0200. Just as I was preparing to leave the watchstation and get some sleep. The USS SARATOGA's CDC reported "two high speed contact, suspected OSA IIs, approaching at high speed from the north west!"

That report, when asked to be confirmed and was reported as "two OSA boats, inbound at 42 kts NW!" will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up and the muscle memory of many trips to GTMO for refresher training comes back in a flash...More to's late and I'm already a day late getting this out. Stay tuned! Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!