Friday, January 27, 2006

The Taliban "Grows Some" - NOT!

Breaking News! Taliban militants besides lauching attacks against Afghan and foreign troops, intensifying the attacks to destroy the female schools. Go figure. With NATO, US, Afghan Army and Pakistani troops to pick on, they do what they do best: Go for the "soft" target. Translation: They can't handle a fight, but they can be the armed with AK-47 and RPG equivalent of the school yard bully. I guess they are felling pretty emasculated because women now get to learn something. You have to be really insecure to try to kill them, just so they don't learn....or you are ashamed they will find out they have been getting the short end of the stick (or the longer end quite literally) since the days when Mohammed decided he had had enough of Christianity making everyone equal, and turned back the clock to recapture the worst of the male dominated Jewish culture. Yep, it's a great "religion" alright.

Lest We Forget: Wiretapping in Another Era

In reference to the current debate over the NSA "wiretapping" issue, we have been here before. The situation is in many ways similar, but, it was a different time. It was a time when an attack on American soil awakened a sleeping giant, that then, with a crippled, and barely adequate military, travelled across two large oceans and set their youth into harm's way, with the will of the people firmly behind them. The first engagement in the Pacific was Pearl Harbor. The enemy took the initiative and caught us unprepared for the challenge, despite General Billy Mitchell having shown us we were not able to protect our national security in the late 30's. The next engagement in that theater was the Battle of the Coral Sea, where a non aviation admiral, Admiral Raymond Spruance, took a new type of battle force against a powerful enemy and he held the line of the Japanese advance into the southern Pacific. As a side note, much has been written critisizing Adm Spruance for his perceived lack of agressiveness with his fleet, but the bottom line is we had suffered major blows and his conservative approach acheived a turning point, where they progressed no more. Next came a tiff in the vicinity of a very small island, big enough for little more than an airstrip and populated by gooney birds named Midway. It was an incredible naval victory for the US, where we caught the Japanese carriers by surprise. Heroism was a common virture in that battle, with famous names of ships such as USS THATCH and USS McCLUSKEY being named after valiant aviators who carried the day in that moment. What allowed us to sink four Japanese carriers to the loss of our one (YORKTOWN)? It began with what we might call "wiretapping" today: Interception and reading of the Japanese Naval Code. The story is incredible, how a group of Navy code breakers struggled to break the code, then had a dummy "in the clear" message sent from Midway, saying the island was running out of fresh water. In subsequent intercepts, the Japanese coded messages reported this "condition," and therefore our experts were then confident they had the right methods to ensure other coded messages "breaks" could be given the highest degree of confidence. Read this excerpt from a site discussing the history of the Midway Atoll:
During World War II, the U.S. utilized a great military intelligence advantage over the Japanese, in both their radar capabilities and code breaking. The radar on Midway gave position, bearing, and altitude. Intelligence experts discovered that the Japanese planned to attack an unknown site referred to as "AF." To test the theory that Midway was the target, a disinformation message regarding Midway's freshwater supply was sent out over open communication channels. The Japanese intercepted the message and redistributed it in their JN 25 code, saying that "AF" needed freshwater. This strengthened intelligence allowed Admiral Nimitz to reinforce Midway's defenses and station additional bombers, fighters, and torpedo aircraft on Eastern Island in preparation for the suspected attack.
Clearly, our govenrment officials, with the sanction of the President, had listened in on the tactical and strategic messages of the enemy, who intended to harm us, in this case, once more, as a follow up to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Across time, this method has been hailed as the runing point of the War in the Pacific, and how in less than a year, a underdeveloped Navy had come back from a major blow, devised entirely new strategies, and had taken the fight to the enemy. Pretty impressive. Should we now impunge the character of President Roosevelt (who had the Bill of Rights as a restriction on his actions) and demand a reversal? No, that would be ludicrous. Look at the common threads: 1) Japan wanted resources. We blocked them with embargos. They decided to destroy us in order to be able to go to the areas of the world where oil, metal and rubber resources were, and take them via a military presense. We reacted with economic sanctions on them, thus causing shortages of the strategic materials of the day. 2) Japan, acting as the agressor, attacked our soverign territory. 3) Japan planned another attack on our territiory. 4) Government officials, acting on official orders, listened in on the conversations of the enemy (Japan) in order to find out how to defend our nation. 5) Japan lost the war, yet is now a major democratic and economic powerhouse, and is not occupied by the United States, in fact, they are one of our closest allies. See the connection? The difference is the modern day agressors in this story do not have the covering of a soverign nation status, and defined borders, but otherwise, they still desire to attack and destroy us, for we interfere with their expansionist plans, and desire for major power status on the world's stage. The Islamic terrorists do not want the strategic materials, they just want sharia law spread worldwide and have proven they will kill those who are 1) weak and 2) those who resist. Polish mathematicians broken the German Enigma Codes, and turned that information over to the British, who exploited it throughouot the way, and shared the intelligence with us to re-route naval convoys of troops and material around U-Boats in the Atlantic. We also were reading the Berlin-Tokyo diplomatic message, as a result of breaking that Japanese set of codes. In each of these three cases, this effort produced free people and not more oppression. Why can't anyone see that in the current situation? Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread! Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

"i am a marine"

Via Mudville Gazette Dawn Patrol this morning, I followed a link to One Marine's View titled "This Young Marine Breaks the Code." I was not disappointed.
"When I joined the Marine Corps in February of 2002, I was really looking for a way to pay for college. The college I attended for just one semester went bankrupt, causing me to lose my full scholarship. I signed the enlistment papers never thinking about going to war, even though the United States was attacked by terrorists just a few months earlier."
Scrolling thru the comments on Capt B's blog, which quoted this Marine Sargent, I found the Sargent himself had left a comment, thanking the Captain for posting his letter, and a link to a new blog, Myskatterbrain. The first post is the letter by the one who wrote it in the first place. He decided to juimp into the blogsphere, and I might add, with an incredible start. I've marvelled for many years at the comraderie the Corps builds. Once in a while, I even think back to the day at the end of my college sophomore year, standing in front of a towering Marine major, the AOIC of the NROTC Unit, and telling him I had decided to go into the Navy, for there seemed to be little use for marine biologists in the USMC. He thought a moment and agreed. I bretahed a sigh of relief. I enjoyed my career driving ships, but there are days I see I might had had something more special... Please read the first person report on the transformation of a man in his thinking. You won't be disappointed, and you will know many others have travelled the same path. Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread!

A Sense of Proportionality

I use Netscape as my browser. I started with it in the way back days of the web and have kept it. The Netscape homepage hilights the news with a main article, then three that rotate in a window just underneath that. Top story: "7 Children Die in Hiway Crash; 15 Year Old Driving" - Yes, a bad thing... Rotating stories: 1: "Breakfast Battles: Watch Out McD's" - It seems the Egg McMuffin is loosing ground in the fast food, spike your sugar and cholesteral in the morning market. HORRORS! 2: "Militant Group Wins Palestinian Election; PM Resigns" - mmmm...Sorta important, but no words really grab you much. 3: "A Happy Hot Rod Homecoming" - Cool! The dude gets his Vette that was stolen 37 years ago.... of violent, islamic terrorists winning a majority of the seats in the election os a soverign nation is (pardon the pun) "sandwiched" between news of a major fast food chain losing market share at the drive thru window and some guy getting his car back. I'd say "they" sort of missed out on the understanding of the importance of each of the news stories, but then again, we can't say "they" never report "good" news.... The media said they don't censor the news, but there is so much to choose from and so little time to report it, they have to select carefully. I submit their selections, particulalry today, as the democratic mechanism of voting has brought a procalimed terrorist organization into the access to nation status. But, then again, Iran did the same thing, and speaking of that, the media sure isn't very concerned about that either....

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Commonality: P-3C/Update II and Gay Marriage

Isn't it interesting how this analogy can help understand a complex issue. Let me begin with the story of the P-3C Orion Update II version. I think it was while I was on the Destroyer Squadron staff when I recall seeing a message declaring how the newest version of the P-3C Orion would not be called the P-3D, but rather the P-3C/Update II. Having built a lot of plane models growing up, and spenind a lot of thime studying the military aircraft of the WWII era, I had come to understand that when a major modification of an aircraft was made, they changed the letter at the end of the designation. The B-17F became the B-17G when they hung a remotely controlled set of .50 cal guns in a chin turret. The P-47, when it got a bubble canopy, vs the old framed one, became the P-47D. The P-38 had lots of variants, some as fighters, some as light bombers, some as photo recon, others as Pathfinders. Each carried a different letter behind the "38." Fast forward to the mid-80s. The P-3 airframe, a military adaptation (quite succesful one at that, for it still patrols the oceans) of the Lockheed Electra passenger plane was getting a major internal makeover. All sorts of more automated gadgets were being stuffed in and now the decision had to be made as to how to dsesigate it. Between the lettering scehme noted in the previous paragragh, and what I learned, there is significant reason to point this out, for the people having to call on the aircraft will know what's up there supporting them, or, during mission planning, may have to be specific requests to make sure the operational function comes off as planned. Why didn't the "P-3D" come into the nomenclature?'s all about money. I learned long ago, the best way to figure out complex issues is to take a look at the money trail, and you may glean some interesting information. In this case, it wasn't the money for the airframe, or the ground support, but it was the issue of the printing and distrobution costs for the change pages for the plethora of publications in existance that referenced the "P-3C." You know, Admin Warfare, the undiscussed mission area, is important! The message that told us to use P-3C/Update II indicated it was cost prohibative to change all the TACMEMOs, NWPs, NTPs, etc, etc, etc, so henceforth and foreevermore, all we would be able to say if we had a "P-3C." Make sense? By now, I hope you didn't get lost in the story and are anxiously awaiting the connection to Gay Marriage. Here it is: It's about the money. Money, you ask? Yes. Here's the deal. Civil unions won't suffice. Like the many forests of printed pubs with "P-3C" that the Navy wasn't about to change, the veritable mountain of legal and regulatory documents out there in the world that say "marriage" in the context of legal rights on allowance of benefits are too many to consider trying to get to change them, one by one, in order to them to say "marriage and/or civil union" would cost lots. On top of that, unlike the control over this decison to change or not being in the hands of the Navy alone (or, in a worst case, the Department of Defense), these documents are under the purview of all sorts of private companies as well. You can't change them just by having the federal government deeming it so. Not only that, it would mean each occurance of resistance to granting rights similar to those granted to straight married people would have to be the approached legally by the person encoutering it, meaning more money out of the pockets of the gay person seeking compensation. The documents will range from applications for insurance, health care plans, employee handbooks and claims forms for all types of insurance. While someone may annonce an equivalency between "marriage" and "civil unions," there will be plenty of businesses that would drag their feet, or flat out say "it says 'marriage' here. sorry!" Therefore, the most effective path to gain access to the many things we grant two people who have promised each other, under a legal contract, to take care of the other, only a nationwide decree of the legality of marriage will suffice. That means, no matter how hard the uphill battle for the activists for this course of action seems, the bottom line is it will then instantly take down all barriers in every other place they may come in contact with resistance, for they hold up a piece of paper saying "Marriage License." The other beauty of this approach is that not every document would have to be known at the time. The acceptance of a "civil union" might make things better for many, but the lingering cases would continue to pop up for years to come, with the associated legal bills and time spent waiting for a clogged court system to hear the case. All this discussion is to help understand why the issue of gay marriage is being pushed so hard right now, and will continue to be. It's the path of least resistance. Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread!

Not Your Dad's M-60....

From, an M-60 A4 firing 850 rounds "at one sitting." It seems the old standby crew served weapon has been given improved qualities...They said it goes 15K rounds before a barrel change. See it here. Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Dear Liberals: Try Reading the Directions

I won't bore you with lots of links, but between the Judge Alito pontifications, the Abrahamoff, the Tom Delay fake consiracy charges...It seems when "it" is brought up by the libs, they soon find out it's people in their own party doing the same kind of things, be it falisifying travel claims, moving PAC money around, taking PAC money, or wiretapping.... The items come and go so fast, you almost can't read them. Here's my counsel for the liberals/Democrats:
I know, I would never really handle any type of weapon, but consider this in a parable style of instruction, the way Jesus's in the analogy, not the specific words (or images, in this case) 'nuff said (for now) If this information has helped you in anyway, please pop over to Project Valour-IT and ,ake a donation to the program to get laptop computers for our wonded service members as compensation for my counselling. Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Journey into History - Part III

Part I, Part II, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VII, Part IX I recall the weather was exceptional. Clear skies and gentle low swells, as we forged our way north, communicating "the old fashioned way," semaphore, flashing light (Morse Code) and flag hoists. The stuff a WWII movie is made of. When tactical manuvering is done this way, and the crews do that well, it's pretty impressive to see many thousands of tons of steel dance across the waves in unison, or planned staging of their movements in an aquatic ripple effect. Traffic was light and we came across one ship of significance, a Soviet merchant ship. "Back in the day," every Soviet vessel that sailed was a mobile intelligence gathering platform. This encouter became a point of focus for our boring, but important transit. The BIDDLE was dispatched out ahead to keep tabs on her, and the SARATOGA and thge other ships were maneuvered to stay a good distance away, but if you can see a ship, then it can see you. That's a good rule to aply in such situations, especially bright sunny days with no clouds at all. Back to the background: The BIDDLE fell behind out Battle Group, much to the chargrin of our CSO, CDR Nurthen. The rest of us had kept small bags with a few days worth of clothes and our toothbrushes... To close this line of the story, we all entered the Med, the BIDDLE late, and a few days later, my staff moved to our flagship, the BIDDLE. The CO of the BIDDLE was under the operational command of the Commodore, even though he had a higher "lineal number." Friction became a part of life, as each man tried to fence off their territory. Upon our embarkation on the cruiser, which was tasked as the anti-air warfare commander (AAWC) for the Battle Group, we found ourselves, as the ASWC, routinelt in EMCON "A," as the cruiser would be dispatched down a threat axis in radar and radio silence to ambush the incoming enemy aircraft. We had normally ridden aboard destroyers before, and this didn't impact us much, except to lose a SONAR from the inner ASW screen. As a side note, one of the normal duties of the ASWC was to also be assigned to be the Screen Commander (SC), responsible for planning and executing the screen of these big deck ships with the destroyers and frigates assigned. Now the problem is we are our on station, only able to listen to the radio circuits, but could not respond. Needless to say, it really put a crimp in our style. It didn't help any that the BG Watch Officers would try to get ahold of us, and get angry when we didn't answer there calls. The "INCHOP" reports were filed, briefings from the 6th Fleet and supporting staffs were made. We then joined up with the SARATOGA BG and "swapped" escorts. It was an odd cruise, for the CORAL SEA would remain in the Med and show off the new thingy I understood to be (possibly) affectionately termed "The Lawn Dart." It was the first operational deployment of the F/A-18, and therefore a good time to parade the new birds around the shores of our allies, more than likely to let them know we were going to use it, so they should get on board and buy some, too. I found out later, foreign navies (and I'm sure other services) don't take it too well when you try to sell them something you aren't planning on using yourself. The F-20 Tigershark aricraft comes to mind in this example. Anyhow, we "worked up" with one carrier, then swapped out on deployment. We didn't move the escorts exactly between battle groups, and some discussion followed, ending with a decision to leave BIDDLE with the CORAL SEA in the Med, and the SCOTT (DDG-995) coming with us to the North Arabian Sea (NAS)/Indian Ocean. It sort of balanced the firepower overall. That decision was crucial at another level. Here were two crews, with gear packed for deployment. Once for a winter Med cruise, the other for the Indian Ocean climes. It wasn't just a bite for the operational issues, but also for the "civies" loaded by the crews for liberty, as well. And back at the 20 years ago corral: The Soviet ship didn't seem to take any interest in us, as they should have. It steamed on it's way, with out deviating from it's course. Not unusual for a regular merchant vessel, but definitely strange for a Soviet flagged ship of any category. A few days after we sailed from DGAR, towards a point in the ocaen south of the Arabian Penninsula, were were given orders to head to the Red Sea and prepare for a northern transit of the Suez Canal....

Thursday, January 19, 2006

This Just In New Reading for Little Liberals...

Coming to a cute new bookstore near you: Brainwashing of the young and the helpless: Why Mommy is a Democrat from the Little Democrats website. How wonderful!
Having spent a lot of years being directly of indirectly invloved in training, in and out of the Navy, I know that many groups try to get in the loop early in life, for it is the time when we are extremely effective sponges. All education at that level is worthy of being carefully chosen, for it is the foundation building time. There are some interesting reactions already blogged about, such as this one: Sean Gleeson's Blog and at Peer Review. Enjoy! HT to a young consevative looking forward to entering the Marines! Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread!

Glow in the Dark Pigs? Yep, It's True!

They have finally done it in Taiwan using genetic engineering to "install" jellyfish bioluminescense genes in pigs. This could spawn a whole series of applications. Kids could have a GITD pig as a pet, so when parents venture in the tried and true admonistion of "this place looks like a pigsty!" would be far more applicatble. IN the menatime, the GITD pig would provide a night light function for the child. Sailors of all types might enjoy a GITD pig, so as to remind them (in the case of Capt Lex) the glow in the carrier's wake as they make night traps, or (in the case of Chapomatic) the glow of the boiluming plankton in the periscope while underwater, or (in the case of CDR Salamander) the green shine of the UNREP ship's bow wave following the outline of the ship as you get gas and ammo at night.... And, there are many other applications. Maybe GITD hampsters would be a better idea if you are trying to get into the novelty market... HT to Little Green Footballs.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Convergence - A Method to Gather Public Opinion for the GWoT

From con·ver·gence (kn-v├╗rjns) n. 1. The process of coming together or the state of having come together toward a common point. That one definition is what I think I need for the following discussion. The support for the Global War on Terror is slumping. I have an idea on how to get support form a broad cross section of the country, if not maybe the world. It is a summation of the current issues we are facing and comes from the headlines. All that is needed now is to figure out how to pull it together. My first point of reference is the recent issues brought on by the New York Times disclosure of the NSA conducting electronic monitoring. The general impression is President Bush has ordered the surveilance of regular American citizens. This, in fact, if it were the case, would most certainly not be Constitutional, and everyone would agree. That's not the real case, but in order to find out what the al-Qaida operatives are up to, the monitoring has involved American citizens, who are at the other end of the phone call. Now, the mood of some people, mostly on the left side of the political spectrum, seems to be that protection from this monitoring should be afforded to the terrorists. This would now confer the same rights we have as Americans upon foriegn nationals, making the application of the Constitutional right of the 4th Amendment universal. As of yesterday, certainly CAIR and the ACLU are making their acceptance of this view an issue by filing a suit to prevent the President form directing this surveillance be conducted. Step 1: Leverage off this view of the left that terrorists are defacto American citizens. Place this note on the large easel in the front of the conference room. Next stop: Megan's Law. This is the Federal law that requires sex offenders to register with local law ebnforcement and provide their address. Put that on the lagre sheet in the front of the room. Why is this a point to consider? For several years, and most recently, there is an almost psychotic reaction in the form of hatred to the presense of sex offenders. If we can harness this emotion, and focus it towards the terrorists, then we will have some real "will of the people" to go after the perpetrators, regardless of the expense. Soccer moms, and just about every body else really hates these people and therefore, they are a unifying force in the community. The most recent case in the news to illustrate this point is the sentencing of Mark Hulett by Judge Cashman in Vermont. The reaction in the media and on the radio and TV shows will let you know an overwhelming majority of people are truly upset. Get yourself a copy of Loretta Napoleoni's Insurgent Iraq. This book is centered on discussing al Zarqawi, currently thought to be the leading al Queda commander in Iraq. Lots of interesting stuff in there, most of it in the first few chapters of the book tend to keep repeating that the Jews displaced the Palestinians, and those who came into Jordan then made it hard for the Jordanians, and that's why al Zarquawi became a terrorist., but I digress.... In the paperback edition from Seven Stories Press, on page 31, there is an interesint tidbit of useful information: al Zarquawi was in prison for drug possession and sexual assault. There you have it: the head AQ guy is a sexual offender. Before you say so what?, go back to my first point: The ACLU would have us treat non-US citizens as our own, remember? Toss in the fact that the US Supreme Court has become accustomed to looking to foreign courts and laws to make decisions for US cases. Here's the strategy: based on those two points raised above, and that al Zarqawi, under US law, would be designated a sexual offender, leverage off the push to treat all persons of the world as if they had rights under the Constitution. It should not be selective, just when it's convinient for the foriegner's to claim protection, but it should be universal. In this instance, then the criminal acts committed should also be on the table. After all, isn't that what the ACLU has been tryiing to get for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay for the last several years, access to our court system? There you have it. Current events and what the desires of the liberals are asking for can be used to now shine a light on who one of the main terrorist is, and therefore bring the rage against him, which will help end the fight in Iraq. Just some idle thinking. Update 1/19/2006: Consider the information in this article about the marked increase in "honor killings" among the Palestinians:
Palestinian feminist Abu Dayyeh Shamas claims that: "Men feel they have lost their dignity and that they can somehow restore it by upholding the family's honour. We've noticed recent cases are much more violent in nature; attempts to kill, rape, incest. There is an incredible amount of incest." One women’s group reported over 400 cases of incest in the West Bank alone in 2002.
Rape and incest, both crimes make a sex offender of the prepetrator, and the volience in Israel attests to the Palestinians propensity towards terrorism, and the opening paragraph of the article links the terrorism with the sexual crimes:
When Israel began erecting a separation barrier in late 2003 to protect its citizens from the seemingly endless procession of suicide bombers, Palestinian society responded by redirecting its destructive urges inward. All revolutions are said ultimately to turn upon themselves and devour their own children. And, when suicide bombing became an increasingly difficult means of enhancing family prestige, Palestinians shifted the focus onto their female offspring to restore the balance.
A sad statment on the human condition. Side note: I have called things like this to the attention to NOW in posts gone by, but, somehow, there is no ruffled feathers in their camp. I would have thought their feelings for the oppressed women would certainly draw their outrage for all women, not just the culturally elite ones. NOW drops the ball again (and again, and again...) Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread!

A Journey into History - Part II

Part I, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VIII, Part IX Needless to say, I was rather disappointed. I mean, get all the way to about 13 degress south of the equator in the Indian Ocean, and you can't even get a chance to have a beer, and see if the Exchange has any T Shirts to prove you were there. Back the stateroom, back into khakis, and head aft about a 1/3rd the length of the ship, then up 7 decks via "ladders." In the Navy, ladders are mostly very steep stairs, not vertical ladders like you might think, but some actually are, usually in the out of the way places, not were there is normal people traffic. (returning to the build up to the main story line - here's more back ground) So, we hauled our stuff to the MONOGAHELA (AO-178) and let that ship's company decide where to put us. The staterooms are huge on those ships, as they have so much space above the area they needed for tanks for fuel. Most officers on the ship already had two man rooms by themselves, so we fit in well, for last minute visitors. Steve was left to getting our gear hauled to Combat Information Center (CIC), and OSCS Koch went to work getting our Joint Operational Tactical Systems (JOTS) HP-9020 computers set up and patched into the radio circuits for LINK 14 data. Controlled chaos was the mood, but, the hosts took care of us. We sailed on time, and settled in for a long planned 6 month, but actual 7 month deployment, not expecting a lot besides boring holes in the waters of the North Arabian Sea, letting Iran know we were there.... The MONOGAHELA did not man the CIC full time. They really didn't need to. With no weapons, and being counted on to just deliver fuel and some cargo, the bridge watch could generally handle the radio traffic and radar watches along with their tasks. They did man up for us, and several Boatswain's Mates (BMs) were provided, along with the Operations Specialists (OSs) to support us. We found out they had cross trained their senior BMs to be CIC supervisors and they were very proficient at their duties. We steamed east, and rendezvoused with the USS CAPODANNO out of Newport, RI, the JESSE L BROWN out of Charleston, SC and USS JACK WILLIAMS from Mayport, FL. A few days later, we received a message fro BIDDLE that repairs were completed and she was getting underway, with "excess SOA" authorized. For transits out of local op areas, we had a top speed limit (on over all average speed) for the ship's movement, which helped plan logistics for fuel delivery, at sea and to forward shore stations. SOA means "speed of advance." 16 kts was the normal limit. BIDDLE would be steaming about 2/3rds of the way to the Straits of Gibralter at close to her top speed. About a day out of our arrival at the entrance to the Mediterranean, the BIDDLE caught up to use late in the day. We packed up our gear, short essentials, and palletized it for highline transfer. BIDDLE came alongside MONOGAHELA just before sunset to commence alongside replenishment at sea (RAS), and our pallets were sent over. The master plan was for us to be heloed over in the morning, to embark on the planned flagship for our staff. Fast forward: It's about 5 AM local time, and I'm one watch. BIDDLE calls us frantically on one of the circuits, reporting white smoke in one of her shaft alleys. Shaft Ally is the last space in the ship where the shafting from the ships turbines then penetrates the hull, heading out to the struts and the propeller. White smoke in there is a bad thing. The response is for the Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) to direct the shaft be stopped ASAP, and then to lock the shaft in place. The net reslut of this action is like dropping a large sea anchor, for the blades of the affected prop are being pulled almost sideways thru the water and not turning. BIDDLE's max speed in this condition was several knots slower than we had to go to arrive in the Med on time to reported to COMSIXTHFLT. I notified the Commodore and the Ops Boss. Planning went into affect for what to do until BIDDLE caught up, since our records and publications were over there. The affect on the Staff was not too bad professionally, as the MONOGAHELA's library would have publications we could use, but the biggest impact was the Chief Staff Officer, Bill Nurthen, has also send his clothes over, except for a single change of them. Well, you can imagine his angst, but also how were were able to play on this to get under his skin for the rest of the cruise.... Later that morning, the OPREP (operational report) from the BIDDLE made it's way to use, and listed the cause of the loss of all oil in the main shaft bearing as sabotage. Someone had uncapped the drain line, and big machinery, which in many cases actually relies on the oil as a medium to carry heat off the movig parts as much as it being a lubricant, does stuff like get hot and the glows red, and then breaks or catches on fire. Shortly after this message came out, the Battle Group Staff lawyer sent one back, letting the BIDDLE know the reported was to read, or any subsequent reports to list sabotage as "malicious destruction." That's the term used when it's one of your own people who causes the damage. (back to the story) So was sailed by late afternoon, the SARATOGA, SCOTT, JACK WILLIAMs, BROWN, CAPODANNO and MONOGAHELA all in formation. We left in strict EMCOM "A." That means no, I mean no, radio communications and all radars were turned off. Once clear of the harbor, our orders were to proceed NNE at top speed in EMCOM. We didn't even know were we were going, except a point south of the Arabian peninsula. More to come...

"AIED?" - Aerial IEDs?

Scary story, but gives new meaning to the old axiom of never take the same path twice. It seems the bad guys have come up with a creative solution to get at our helo assets, to include special attention being paid to MedEvac helos. From the Telegraph, here's an article on Aerial IEDs.
The new home-made weapons, known to the Americans as "aerial improvised explosive devices" have been used on numerous occasions. "The enemy is adaptive. They makes changes in the way they fight, they respond to new flying tactics," Brig Edward Sinclair, a US army aviation commander, told Defense News, which first revealed the new threat.
HT to Van Impe in a Open Thread comment over on Little Green Footballs. Thanks to The Military Outpost for the link! Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

"Proud: The Men of the USS MASON"

Ally Hilger has produced a movie, which has finally begun to make it's way into the movie theaters. The movie, "Proud," is the story of the USS MASON (DE-529) is now out and playing in small engagements around the country. It's now playing in Atlanta, GA. A link to the schdeule page is here... My interest in this story began with my friendship with Ben Garrison, who was a Radioman on the MASON during the war. As a result of this aquaintance, I have come to know of the the 761st Tank Battalion and the "Triple Nickel" 555th Parachute Regiment, in addition to the well known story of the Tuskegee Airman of the 99th Fighter Squadron. I did some blogging on it last spring, encapsulating some of the history of the beginnings of desegregation in the US Military. We have come a long way... Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread! Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Monday, January 16, 2006

In Case You Keep Track of These Things...

The new record is 85, set 12/05/2005 at Lake Wales, FL. An you thought Naval Aviators® were the pre-eminent formation flyers... Notes from the website on what was hanging there in the sky:
The 85 way was completed in 9 minutes and 46 seconds from the time Chris left the plane until the last legal grip was taken on Annie. We held it for 17 seconds. Taking the height measurements from the canopies down the center line and heights of those individuals the formation was about 276' tall give or take a foot or two. The formation was 175' wide since there was about a foot between each person's canopy. According to the Sunday/Monday weigh ins (and Chris wearing 90 pounds) the people on the 85 way made it weigh 17,552 pounds
Get more info on this World Record here... Here's the preceeding work for an 81-way diamond:

What's the Difference?

I as sat watching the first two hours of Season 5 of the Fox series "24," I thought there is one difference between that and reading the blogvel "Rythyms" by Capt Lex: At least you know for sure when the next episode of 24 is coming on... One doesn't come with exceptionally loud (and appropriate) sound effects... Other than that, both are action packed and worth every minute. BTW, Rythyms XLII is posted! Update: Thanks to an astute commenter at Little Green Footballs, there is a list of rules when operating in or near former Special Agent Jack Bauer... Over at Plain as the Nose on Your Face, we have these truthful Bauerisms:
We feel it is high time that everyone learned a bit more about the man entrusted to safeguard our national security: * When in Jack Bauer's presence, Chuck Norris urinates sitting down. * Jack Bauer can squeeze through spaces that would make a spider claustrophobic. * Tired of the incessant whining and complaining, Jack Bauer found the dogs and let them right back in. * Jack Bauer's saliva is bullet-proof. * After receiving repeated roundhouse kicks to the head from Chuck Norris, Jack Bauer was heard to ask,"Can you go a bit lower? I was crammed in an air conditioning duct between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. and my back is killing me." * Jack Bauer can eat five times his body weight in terrorists. * Concerned that his dog would break under interrogation, Jack Bauer snapped his neck and turned him into the bag which he still carries to this day. * Jack Bauer has the ability to smell sounds. * Ancient peoples sacrificed virgins to Jack Bauer in anticipation of his birth. * The only thing elephants used to fear was mice. Until they hurt one of Jack Bauer's friends.
And...thanks once more to Little Green Footballs for the Open Threads, that are the cause of so much fun and information from all over the world!

A Little Blogging Humor....

This was published in the local paper on New Year's Day, but not listed in the Pearls Before Swine cartoon archives. Maybe it's an analogy of what happens out here in the blogosphere sometimes... Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread! Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Friday, January 13, 2006

Michael Yon Needs Help

Michael Yon, a former SF Operator turned freelance reporter, is in the States and has made an intersting observation, and is calling for help from retired military people:
The difference a year can make is staggering. One year ago, the gap between the ground reports from Iraq from military friends prompted my travel to Iraq to see for myself just what was happening. The dispatches posted to these pages over the ensuing months were an attempt to bridge that gap. Now that I’m back in the United States for a time, trying wring every bit of information of the war out of the news, only to come up dry most days, it’s become clear that in just under a year, the media gap has morphed into a chasm. Before this thing becomes a black hole, it’s time for a few good men and women to put their military experience and expertise to use in an operation that can create an alternative channel that will allow frontline information to break through and be heard.
Here's the post with his plea for those with connections to the real men and women on the front lines to step up to the plate and become the conduits for the news to flow from our service members. Think of it as a call to arms, to quit grumbling about those PAO types who were good for nothing, and become one. Who can sniff out a (let's be polite) "fake" story better than those who have been there, and also, who can know it's a good story for the same reasons? Most likely you also have connections to friends and family who are in some far flung corner of the world on a deployment, doing the hard work, and not having it reported, at all, let alone the way it is. Here's the unabridged direction from Michael:
Call for Volunteers: Any retired military personnel interested in the Frontline Forum, please email to, and put “Volunteer” in the subject heading. Please describe briefly your military experience and an estimate to the number of hours per week you can spend reading stories from troops. If you have skills that are in some way related to this project, please include a description of those skills in your email. Let us know what you can do and how much of it you are willing and able to do. Someone will get back to you soon. While the Volunteers organize, we’ll build the forum, network with others who are in touch with our troops, and when all is ready, we can turn on the faucets and open the flow of frontline news.
On the Rush Limbaugh show a few days ago a caller made a great point: Many years from now, the people researching what this time was all about will pull up articles from the NYT and Washington Post. He was a little discouraged, saying "they have alredy beat us, because they have written it the way they want and now it's history." Michael's call for volunteers may well be a way to counter the press bias for those of two and more generations down the road, who will no longer have the view of those who were there. So...time to quit grumbling about the Has Been Media and get out to poke a stick in thier eye, with that valuable tool called "truth." Thanks to Little Green Footballs for the Open Thread! Can you help?

It's Too Bad James Doohan Has Moved On...

WOW! What will those rocket scientists think of next? Hyperdrive sure will make our other meager attemtps at space travel look like we are in the stone age... Eat lunch, go to the moon, have dinner in 1/6th the gravity....I'm sure "Scotty" would like to have been around for this...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Journey Into History - Part I

Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V, Part VI, Part VII, Part VII, Part IX I don't recall the exact date it was, but it was in January 20 years ago, and the location was an island pardise referred to as "DGAR" (pronounced Dee-gar) by the mulitude of airmen and sailors who have had the pleasure of transiting, by ship, sub or plane to the southern reaches of the Indian Ocean in the Chagos Archipeligo. Being south of the equator, it is more than likely responsible for many "Shellbacks" of the various services as well. I pick up the story a few months late. But to catch up quickly, my travels to DGAR began in Norfolk, VA at the end of Oct, 1985. Sailing with the USS CORAL SEA (CV-43) Battle Group, under the command of Commander Carrier Group TWO. Assigned to the Battle Group was Destroyer Squadron THIRTY TWO, USS BIDDLE (CG-34), USS CAPODANNO (FF-1093), USS JESSE L BROWN (FF-1089), USS JACK WILLIAMS (FFG-24) and USS MONOGAHELA (AO-178), we headed east to the Med to swap out our CV and Group Commander, before heading to the North Arabian Sea. My "boss" was Capt Wes Jordan, Jr, Commodore for DESRON 32, and the Chief Staff Officer was CDR William "Bill" Nurthen. Staff OPS was LCDR Steve Nerheim, LCDR AL McCollum was our token ASW TACCO from the P-3 community to help make sure us "shoes" did ASW right. Much, much more on that later....OSC(SW) Jim Koch was our OPS Assistant, and RMCS(SW) Rumbaugh the Communications Officer. We had a chpalian and an RP (religiuos program specialist), but I can't recall their names. They were farmed out to the ships of the Battle Group and rarely we with us. YN1 Thorton and a MS1 as the Commodore's staff rounded out our little "family." Our sailing from Norfolk in October had been a wonderfully exciting day, as all our gear had been loaded aboard USS BIDDLE, but during the night before, the deck crew was hoisting a 40' Utility Boat back aboard when a limit switch failed, allowing the winches to keep running, after the davit arm was fully upright. The result was a bend davit arm. COMNAVSURFLANT directed BIDDLE to remain inport and effect repairs, as our deployment would require anchoring out a lot, and the boat davits would be used extensively. The Commodore issued orders to find another flagship. Looking to the north, we could see the CORAL SEA already moving from the piers. USS MONOGAHELA was still moored at her berth, so we yelled for help from the BIDDLE's crew, and got our gear to the Oiler.... Off we go, but more background to come. Anyhow, on or about this date, 20 years in the past, I was headed towards the brow, so I could say I had a beer on Diego Garcia, after being on duty the first day inport, having just arrived from Singapore, where most of our Battle Group had spent Christmas. I heard "All Hands Prepare to Get Underway!" on the USS SARATOGA's 1MC system.....

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Toughtful Discussion on Warrantless Searches

Chapomatic is a really smart guy (but then most all sumariners I have met are), who does his homework. He has great posts and this one, besides being good reading, has spawned a "spirited," yet mostly polite discussion between a libertarian, some conservative civilians and a few ex- and current military guys, who have their opinions on the topic of the NSA leaks. I submit we have bowed to many warrantless searches, like at getting on commercial airplanes, giving our SSN for credit checks and going to major sports venues and US Customs, and no one gets too excited about that. One response to my commentary on the thread said words the the effect that there is no Constitutional right to ride a plane. Someon responded that there is also no Constitutional right to make telephone calls! Touche! I submit the rage is merely Bush Derangement Syndrome, because there doesn't seem to be retroactive rage for the decades, and, actually centuries of this behavior by government....I'd be much more sympathetic to "the cause" if I saw anger at the concept, not at one man's actions. Anyhow, it's a thread of discussion that should hang on and "have legs" I suspect....

Lex wants a Mazda, I'll Take One of These

Capt Lex says he wants a Mazda Kabura, but I really think he let out that his eyesight is slipping from the one eagle eyed 20/15 measure he is used to....that's way too sad for any pilot. But, in the spirit of tech lust™, I'd like one of these:
A really, really BIG Screen. Now, on the other hand....
these would be nice (and would keep from disturbing others in the room), but...alas, as with many things develped for the DoD, it's really kinda pricy..(I think about $26K) and it looks very nerdish.
These are more compatible with the middle income pocket book, in the $899 retail range...

Monday, January 09, 2006

Last Days

I see the "wakeup" clearly up ahead. Here is a quote from "Last Days at the FOB":
"Do not mistake my words. I am not broken, nor am I damaged. The story of our mission is not a tragedy, despite our losses. The deepest etchings on my soul, the ones that will remain in both this life and the next, were the incandescent examples of valor, courage, and brotherhood I witnessed each and every day. The men who served at my side were bound to me, and I to them, with tidal forces that have no equivalent in the sterile formality of the living world. Back home the concept of "self" is a rigid construct, a domain mapped with the rigid formality of a land agreement. But here on the bleeding edge we became more something greater than our individual parts. We became a family."
Profound to the very core... Lt Currie, CPT Bout, and Major K are almost out of the combat zone, but, as Danjel says above, it's about those he fought beside, that have changed him. An echo of the veterans of combat in so many wars once more. Here's a link to an interview with CPT Danjel Bout on the Milblogging site. It's a very interesting read, and a chance to find out what one man's stress relief has managed to accomplish. (HT: Mudville Gazette.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Some Other Video Creations...

A little something from the "Duece Four" troops...All the good stuff in the movie: Explosions, cool military equipment, hard rock, and lots and lots of good guys (Stryker guys). A music video by a blogger: American Citzen Soldier - "This We'll Defend." One of our soldiers with some pretty amazing talents! Just another reason to support Operation Heartstrings! Video by Americanloveunit - "The Pride of America" - Our troops at "work" and some of the results... Bombs at work...stuff yields to the laws of physics.... Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Santa Doing Aerial Gunnery Practice

Looks like the Marines are helping out making the world a safer place... HT: Open Fire

An Open Invitation to Jack Murtha from Charlie Daniels

Charlie Daniels was being interviwed on the Tony Snow talk show. Charlie commented that he had no idea which generals were telling Jack Murtha that we couldn't win the war, because he hadn't heard that from a single one. During his tour of SW Asia, he said, while you might find a very occasional service member who didn't think we were winning, but every one else was confident that we were winning every where but in the media and great things were happening. Charlie issued an open invitation to Jack Murtha and Ted Kennedy to accompany him on his next tour, which is being planned for April, so they could get the answers from the troops who were doing the fighting. Sounds to me like someone has a solution to a problem here.... So, any bets that Jack Murtha's schedule is already full? It would be nice if he took this trip, so he could really make sound decisions while carrying out his Constitutionally mandated duties in Congress. Tony asked Charlie about Operation Heartstrings, too. Charlie has set up a plan to get instruments and equipment to the troops, so they have something for their time off the line to relax with. He mentioned many companies have made generous contributions already, mentioning that Gibson has already sent 100 guitars. Charlie is working with the National Guard to get the donated items transported. Thanks to Mudville Gazette for the Open Post!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I'm Just Curious...

I picked up this morning's paper and rejoiced at the saved lives, only to find out that it was but one life, the raido in the car told me. I'm curious: Will the reporters of the print and electronic media possibly begin to figure out they have some responsibility to their fellow humans? This past 14 months (or there abouts) have been one unfounded story after another. Start with Dan Rather's faked memo on the President's National Guard Service and, discounting the horrific pain caused today by people more concerned with ratings, marketshare and readership than the doing something professional, let alone morally correct, consider the completely false reporting that came out of New Orleans regarding maruading bands of criminals taking over the streets and dead bodies piled up. I once heard someone define courage as being able to hang on 10 seconds longer than everyone else. Maybe it would be good for reporters to hang on those few extra minutes before releasing such significant (but in actuality, in the name of making sure all reporting it correct) stories, lest they send waves of emotional reactions that have damagin effects. Look at the result of false stories of the flushing of Koran's by US troops. That story resulted in riots and actual deaths. I heard that there has already been one incident of a mine company official being jumped by one of the family members. It's more than preventing emotional issues here, it's about not tempting people in highly charged emotional states to make decisions they will regret for the rest of their lives, let alone the physical consequences someone else in their path may have to live with as a result. It's all about choices, and I vote for everyone to be responsible in their personal choices.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Poem of Tribute to the Fallen

They fought so that others may live That destitute nations be free. They sacrificed the very things That stand for democracy. They lost their lives heroically That war and suffering would cease. God bless them all and may their souls Forever rest in peace. Found in Stalag Luft IV during WWII
I found this on the home page of Museum of the Soldier. It fits the men and women of today just as well as it did 60+ years ago.