I Bet This Was A Fun Maneuvering Watch!

Check out this picture of USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) after a recent mooring in Groton:

Notice all the white stuff on the sail? That's ice. I remember quite a few very cold surface transits in the Long Island Sound, but nothing where I saw this much ice. There was this one, though, when I was a NUB on USS Topeka back in early '91, where I was manning #1 periscope on the surface during an outbound transit (as Contact Coordinator U/I, if I recall correctly), and every couple of minutes a wave would hit the optics of the raised 'scope -- followed a couple of seconds later by a huge slug of water coming down the bridge trunk and hitting the bear trap. Someone suggested we shut the lower bridge hatch to keep everything from getting wet, when someone else remembered a story of a boat that did that, and then had the bridge trunk fill with water and then something clogged the drain valve, trapping the OOD and lookout on the bridge. We ended up moving the OOD below and navigating the rest of the way out to the dive point at night, with reduced visibility, and no one on the bridge. I wonder how that would be looked at in today's ORM-centric environment...

Sailor-To-English Translator

Greyhawk schooled us Sailors by coming up with a "preview" clip of what seems to be the most popular part of the new "Hey, Shipwreck" video series I discussed earlier this week. Here's the NSFW (even with -- or because of -- all the bleeps) clip of the "Sailor-to-English Translator" vignette:

Massive w00tness!

I'm In The Paper!

Once again, I'm "famous for Boise" -- I got a letter published in the Letters to the Editor of the Idaho Statesman, basically fitting this post into their 200 word limit. It's the 2nd one down:
Several letter writers have made fun of Congressman Sali's proposal to "reduce gravity" as a way of showing his belief that increasing (or even having) a minimum wage is against "natural law." While the concept might be funny, a careful reading of Rep. Sali's draft bill (just posted on his Web site at http://sali.house.gov/) is even more humorous. In one paragraph he says: "The combination of caloric intake, busy schedule, sedimentary profession, and lack of exercise combine to result in an increase in weight in many Americans, including Members of Congress, expanding waistlines and bulges of various sizes and shapes."

Sedimentary profession? What does Congressman Sali have against geologists? Don't rock-hunters spend more time outdoors than members of many other professions? Seriously, is it too much to ask that a congressman who ran on a platform of making English the official language be expected to hire staff members who know the difference between "sedimentary" and "sedentary?" While Congressman Sali might think it's a good use of taxpayer dollars to have his staff write "bills" like this, it amazes me that he'd put it on his Web site as if it were something to brag about.
I was hoping they'd give it a cool title, like "Sali Off To A 'Rocky' Start", but no such luck. To Congressman Sali's credit (and assuming he actually reads the hometown newspaper), his staff hasn't tried to take down or change the offending document.


CO Of USS Newport News Relieved

In the continuation of a tradition in the Submarine Force, another CO whose ship suffered a mishap that made the press was relieved for cause today. From the Fifth Fleet press release:
Rear Adm. Douglas J. McAneny, Commander, Combined Task Force 54, completed administrative personnel actions involving select members of the USS Newport News (SSN 750) crew, Monday, Jan. 29, to include relieving Cmdr. Matthew A. Weingart of command due to a lack of confidence in his ability to command. Capt. Norman B. Moore has temporarily assumed command of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine.
CAPT Moore, the new temporary CO, had commanded USS Columbus (SSN 762) during his normal command tour. The statement in the press release that there were "administrative personnel actions involving select members of the... crew" indicates that more than just the CO went to the green table; normally, the names and specific punishments for those who aren't the CO won't be released, so we don't know for sure yet if they just got letters, were busted, or even got reassigned. All I've heard so far is what it says in this article from The Virginian-Pilot, that, in addition to saying that the submarine suffered damage to the VLS tubes and forward MBTs, also has some rumors about the other punishments:
McAneny's decision to remove Weingart - as well as issue him a punitive letter of reprimand, according to a Navy source familiar with the case - might indicate that the venturi effect was only partly to blame.
A "punitive" letter of reprimand is a fault-finding document, and it is stronger than a general letter of reprimand...
...Besides Weingart, three other sailors faced administrative charges for their roles in the Newport News incident. A source close to the case said charges against one officer were dropped, and two petty officers received "administrative actions."
This firing, coming on the heels of the CO of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708) being relieved, really didn't surprise me. Those submariners who have ever operated in shallow constricted waters like the approaches to the Strait of Hormuz probably noticed immediately that the reports of how the accident happened didn't seem "quite right" with respect to the boat finding herself in that situation. (Note: While we don't know the exact geometries or locations of the ship's involved in the collision, I don't have to mention that none of us should discuss on this open-source blog the things we noted that seemed "wrong".) I'm just wondering whether the decision to relieve Captain Weingart was due solely to his actions that contributed to the collision, or if it was the result of "discrepancies" noted during the after-mishap "investigation" of the ship's day-to-day operations. Since this accident didn't get nearly as much press as the USS San Francisco grounding, I don't expect that we'll see the Submarine Force go public with all their "damning" evidence like they did with the SFO. My guess is we won't ever find out if the decision to remove the CO was because of a "one strike and you're out" policy, or the result of noted problems in the way the ship was being run. I'm sure all of us will have our opinions, though.

Best. Submarine. Viral Videos. Ever.

Got an E-mail from an active duty reader who turned me on to the "Hey, Shipwreck" video series. The most recent one can be found here -- you'll then have to click on the DivX or WMV links. The first four episodes are linked from this page.

The videos are hard to describe. Basically, they feature a couple of animated "Halo"-type FPS video game characters with Navy crows and dolphins standing around shooting the sh*t on watch -- on a space submarine of the future that seems to be a boomer. The most recent one features a qual checkout and a s-t-s with "Sailor-to-English translation" provided. If you just close your eyes and listen to them, you'll think you're back on the boat. The submariner who makes them has a blog about the series here.

Oh, and it's definitely NSFW if you don't have headphones.

Update 2230 29 Jan: CDR Salamander likes the videos too, and comes up with the reason that they should strike a chord with most Sailors -- the conversation is pretty much exactly what you'd expect to hear on any midwatch.

Tesla Motors

The world is changing, and quickly.

I had been planning that my dream car would be an Aston Martin, perhaps the V8 Vantage.

With its impending sale though, the future of the brand is in doubt.

A hybrid-electric car is also interesting, but it lacked a performance edge to make it totally attractive.

But now there's a new cool high-performance car on the block!

From Tesla Motors.

Zero to Sixty in four seconds -- like a Lamborghini!

And it's not even a hybrid, but totally electric!

Range of 250 miles per charge, much like a regular car.

Cost: one cent per mile. Which is like getting 135 miles per gallon!

Initial production sold out in four months and the list is being taken for 2008.

And you'll need $100,000.

But they are planning to roll out one at half that price in not too long.

And without oil money, the islamic world and its jihad will fade back into the sands.

It's a race of technologies: can we get off oil before they get the A-bomb?

Oh yeah, it also turns out termites can make ethanol from wood, so bioengineering might make ethanol actually economical on a mass scale...

Any number of good things can happen!

Save the 9/11 Memorial

This organization, Save the 911 Memorial, has an ad and a petition at its site.

The issue is:
Family leaders object to current plans that will list most of the names of 2,979 people who perished in the attacks of 2001 and 1993 without reference to age, affiliation, location and, in the case of uniformed service members, rank. The group plans to place 60 second television ads in New York City markets.

The campaign’s first ad, entitled “Missing at the Memorial,” features the familiar images of the missing flyers which were posted all over New York City in the attack’s immediate aftermath by relatives of the victims and which identified their loved ones by age, company, and floor location in the World Trade Center. The flyers became the first spontaneous memorials embraced by the public. The ad says that Mayor R. Bloomberg, chairman of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation, wants a “cold, random list of names.” Families and former co-workers contend that the current plan to list victims without any personal references, and in an order intended to appear random, robs victims of the human qualities that rallied and sustained the nation. The 9/11 groups believe that narrative information associated with the names will enable future generations to better appreciate how the historic attacks were actually experienced by the country.

“We do not accept that these people died ‘randomly,’ or ‘in no discernable order’ which to future visitors will be exactly the same thing,” said Edith Lutnick, whose brother Gary, 36, worked for the firm of Cantor Fitzgerald on the 104th floor of the North Tower. “Turning human beings into featureless casualties is a distortion of history. Instead of conveying the story of 9/11, this memorial will express the dark point of view of the terrorists who murdered them.”

Family members believe that leaving the 2,400 mostly civilian victims without affiliations and in no discernable order, creates a two-tier memorial consisting of flesh and blood people on the one hand and anonymous casualties on the other. The disparity is particularly painful for families of more than 1,000 victims whose remains were never recovered.

The families and representatives of uniformed service associations contend that World Trade Center Memorial Foundation is building an extravagant memorial that will not resonate with visitors because it does not convey the attacks in personal terms. They believe that leaving the civilians without identification diminishes the noble sacrifice of first responders because it ignores the people whom they gave their lives to save.

Family members said that identifying group affiliations for New York City first responders is a step in the right direction, but stripping them of their rank is a slap in the face to their service and sacrifice. 100 officers, including Chief of the Department Peter J. Ganci, Jr. were among the 343 members of the FDNY who perished.

“My brother, Capt. Billy Burke with Engine 21, didn’t send his men into those towers,” said Michael Burke, who spoke at the press conference, “he led them in. And he did not leave, telling a friend who begged him to get out after tower two fell, ‘This is my job, this is who I am.’ How will visitors get a sense of that, if we don’t tell them?”
The 60-second video is also on youtube.

Sign The Pledge

Here is a Pledge to sign to send the following statement to the Senate:
If the United States Senate passes a resolution, non-binding or otherwise, that criticizes the commitment of additional troops to Iraq that General Petraeus has asked for and that the president has pledged, and if the Senate does so after the testimony of General Petraeus on January 23 that such a resolution will be an encouragement to the enemy, I will not contribute to any Republican senator who voted for the resolution. Further, if any Republican senator who votes for such a resolution is a candidate for re-election in 2008, I will not contribute to the National Republican Senatorial Committee unless the Chairman of that Committee, Senator Ensign, commits in writing that none of the funds of the NRSC will go to support the re-election of any senator supporting the non-binding resolution.
And then contact your own Senators!

This is useful because we are turning things around in Iraq, even as the hysterical Copperheads try to declare defeat and demand that the "surge" not be given a chance to work -- after carping all along that there were not enough troops!

This big battle today, sending over 250 jihadis to hell, may be a sign of things to come with the new aggressive posture, because Killing is the sine qua non of War:
Last October, my sources began telling me about rumblings among the insurgent strategists suggesting that their murderous endeavor was about to run out of steam. This sense of fatigue began registering among mid-level insurgent commanders in late December, and it has devolved to the rank and file since then. The insurgents have begun to feel that the tide has turned against them.
The Washington-initiated “surge” will speed-up the ongoing process of defeating the insurgency. But one should not consider the surge responsible for the turnaround. The lesson to be learned is to keep killing the killers until they realize their fate.
The major, and unsurprisingly unheralded, accomplishment in Iraq in recent months was to squeeze the life (literally and metepahorically) out of the domestic Iraqi insurgencies. That means the Sunni insurgencies, who were mainly oriented toward the preservation of Baathist party and Tikriti tribal power. The Shia militias weren’t really trying to overthrow the central government (PM Maliki was in their pocket, so what’s the point?) but until the end of 2006 the Sunni insurgents entertained the notion that could could wield majority power again.

What changed their mind, at least most of them? Well, Saddam’s short drop and sudden stop had a lot to do with it. But mostly it sank in to them that they cannot win. US and US-led direct action against them (that is, killing them) unintentionally combined with the ruthlessness of the Shia militias made them come to reality, says Kazmi.

The wider Sunni insurgency — the groups beyond Al Qaeda — is being slowly, and surely, defeated. The average insurgent today feels demoralized, disillusioned, and hunted. Those who have not been captured yet are opting for a quieter life outside of Iraq.
Word is that leaders of the Shi'ite death squads are also getting out of town due to the new Rules of Engagement.

Meanwhile, Hillary, who voted for the war, is making this bizarre declaration:
DAVENPORT, Iowa - Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that President Bush should withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq before he leaves office, asserting it would be "the height of irresponsibility" to pass the war along to the next commander in chief.
In other words, she doesn't want to have to deal with it, either as the next President, or on the campaign trail!
"We expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office" in January 2009, the former first lady said.
We? Who's the Commander in Chief here?

Busy Busy...

Sorry for the minimal posting this weekend; I went to dinner last night with some Boise-area bloggers (I was the reason Adam had to put in the "non-liberal" caveat), and spent today at church, a nephew's birthday party, and doing my taxes. (Plus, I watched some golf.) Re: taxes, for the 24th year in a row I got more money from the federal government than I had to pay in, so I really can't complain.

I did have a little bit of 'net time, but I'm spending that in an interesting discussion over at Julie's place (who was the only one of what I'm pretty sure are the five "most-visited" Boise area bloggers who wasn't at the dinner last night).

Update 2246 28 Jan: While I won't complain about federal taxes, I fully reserve the right to bitch about Idaho state income taxes. While the property taxes here are (relatively) low, the income tax rate in Idaho is 7.8% on everything over about $24K. As a result, our state income tax liability is over half of what we have to pay in federal taxes. And yet, most of the complaining I hear from Idahoans comes from whining over property taxes...

Picture From Today's Anti-War Rally ("9-II Was An Inside Job")

One of the main problems that liberals have in this country (other than a myopic naïveté about how the world really works) is their failure to come up with a consistent message. Today's anti-war rally in D.C. might have been an opportunity for them to demonstrate some organizational skills; unfortunately, they couldn't quite figure out how to make themselves not look ridiculous on TV:

So why is the person who made the sign concerned about something called "9-II" being an inside job? (Even the DUmmies are upset about it.) And why invite Jane Fonda to speak if they hope to convince Middle America that they're not complete jerks?

Update 1441 27 Jan: While this isn't really related (other than belonging to the same general category: politics), and I don't think that has anything to do with her fitness (or lack of same) to be President, I figured I might as well post the video of Sen. Clinton "singing" the national anthem -- just because everyone will be talking about it later:

It sounds like she got the words wrong in one place...

Year of the Pig

It's nearly Chinese New Year.

Ring in the Year of the Pig with pride!

Oh, wait, according to the front page of yesterday's Wall Street Journal, that's offensive to muslims, so in an extraordinary move, the Chinese government has suddenly banned depictions of pigs in advertising -- which is a big sudden blow to many companies that had planned marketing tie-ins with pig mascots and such.

Though the pig is a sign of prosperity in Chinese culture, and an important part of Hunan cuisine, for thousands of years, the tiny muslim community in China must not be offended.

They say it's because pigs are unclean.

Of course, you yourself, infidel, are unclean.

Start practicing saying "How high, Sir?" when they say "Jump!"

Happy Chinese New Year!

When There's Nothing Else To Post...

...the enterprising submarine blogger can always find an upbeat submarine video on YouTube:

Navy Doing The IA Thing Better Now

Navy NewsStand has a story of the CNO dropping in on Individual Augmentee (IA) training at Ft. McCrady in South Carolina. From the story:
The Navy currently has more than 10,000 Sailors in IA duty assignments all over the world. Personnel officials estimate that nearly half the 4,300 Sailors serving in Iraq are IA’s. Mullen said he does not expect those figures to change dramatically in the next year or so...
...The Navy’s top leader described the positive attitude of IA Sailors he recently visited in Iraq and Afghanistan, saying they felt proud to be serving and knew they were making a difference. He also pointed out ways the Navy is trying to improve the entire IA assignment process.
The recently-established Task Force Individual Augmentation, for example, has increased notification time for Sailors ordered to IA billets from under 30 days to a high of 80 days in December 2006. The notification window begins when a Sailor receives written orders of IA duty, and ends when that Sailor leaves the area of permanent duty station.
The Navy also announced late last year a series of new IA incentives. These initiatives include flexible advancement exams and award points towards advancement. The Navy will also pay for families of Sailors deployed on IA duty to move from their area of permanent duty station to an area of greater family support during the deployment. These initiatives are designed to ease the burden of the family and Sailor during the separation.
I was one of the earlier IAs, and I sure didn't get 80 days notice. Back in August '03, they sent out the message that they were looking for someone on a Wednesday, and I was on a plane to Tampa the next Tuesday (the day my written orders arrived).

Please note that I'm not saying this to complain -- just to point out that the Navy is doing things better now. You see, I volunteered to be an IA. I had just transferred from Groton to be the AOIC of what was then NAVSUBTRACENPAC San Diego -- everyone still called it SubTraFac -- about three weeks earlier. I was pretty bummed; not because I was in San Diego, but because my career was ending in such a non-important job. [Short story: I'd had orders earlier in the year to be XO on USS Hartford (SSN 768), but lost them when I had to go see the Doc for a relatively minor but submarine-disqualifying medical condition. Since I wasn't on the first team anymore, the O-5 board was only too happy to pass me over -- although my 24% BF did make their decision a little bit easier.] The OIC of STF had let me know that he wasn't going to be having me teach any classes because of my weight -- after all , during the GWOT, it wasn't important that we be smarter than the enemy; it was important that we looked better than the enemy in uniform. (No, I'm not at all bitter.) When the message came out saying that NPDC had to provide an O-4 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom for CENTCOM, I jumped at it. I figured I still had a contribution to make, and going to Iraq would be the best way for me to make it.

It turns out that going to Iraq wasn't in the cards for me. I flew straight to Tampa -- they didn't start the Army-style training until about 3 months after I got picked up as an IA. (They did it in Ft. Benning then.) When I arrived, I asked when I'd be heading for Iraq; they told me that they decided they needed me to stay in Tampa. They set me up in a two BR apartment in St. Petersburg and had me take over the "Coalition Financial Ops" desk in the Iraq Coalition Coordination Center from a Navy CDR who was leaving in three days. As I was turning over, I found out that I was basically in charge of figuring out how to set up a system for handling over $500M of funds to help support the 30-odd countries getting set to provide troops in Iraq in August '03. I had a memo from Condoleezza Rice saying we could use the money, a four page memorandum of understanding between us and Poland that was mostly generalities, a slightly longer MOU between Poland and the other countries that had even more generalities, and an E-mail cache -- and that was about it. Needless to say, it concerned me a little that there weren't any procedures set up ahead of time, and I was even more concerned that a Navy O-4 with no real financial training was supposed to come up with these procedures.

It all ended up working out OK -- it turns out that I was a natural for the job. The Army and Marine colonels I was working for were scared to death of what I was doing (but even more scared of what would happen if I didn't get my job done in time -- the Ukrainians really wanted to be reimbursed quickly), so they basically signed everything I told them to sign and let me work in peace. While I was in Tampa, quite a few officers I worked with would get sent off to Iraq on short notice -- since they arrived about when I did, they hadn't gotten any special training. They basically went down to the armory, qualified on the 9mm, got issued a sidearm and some extra uniform stuff, and got stuck on a plane to the Middle East. (They lost their extra TAD money too, which sucked.) A buddy of mine from college came back and told a story of how they'd gone off on a beer run and gotten pinned down in an alley by a couple of guys shooting at them with AK-47s. Some of the guys who went to Iraq E-mailed that the Green Zone had been hit by mortar fire within a few minutes of them arriving. At that point, I decided that it was probably good I didn't get sent to Iraq, especially within a year of retirement.

My point? I'm glad the Navy IAs (including this submariner) are out there on the "tip of the spear" defending our freedoms. I'm also glad the Navy is doing a better job preparing the IAs for what they'll be dealing with, and the story is probably right that it will pay dividends by having more Sailors with "joint" experience -- as long as they make it home safely. Some don't, and they will be greatly missed.

Update 2239 25 Jan: Here's more on improvements being made to the IA process.

"Smooth Criminal" -- NOT!

The criminals in Boise can compete with the best of them in the "dumbest crook" category:
Boise Police arrested a 22-year-old man for check fraud when he reportedly left his drivers license at a local store after a clerk refused to cash a stolen payroll check...
...Boise police were called to a undisclosed retail store at Fairview Avenue and Cole Road at 1:22 p.m. Tuesday when store clerk reported that a man tried to cash a payroll check and then left the store after the clerk refused. The man, later identified as Landell, left his real driver’s license at the store. Store employees watched the man get into the passenger seat of the car and drive away. That information was passed on to Boise police, who found the car at a nearby store. When officers walked towards the car, the driver, later identified as Smith, ran away and got as far as the WinCo Foods store at Cole and Fairview before he was arrested.
Landell was arrested inside a nearby store, police said.
Officers found 30 checks inside the car which were reported stolen from an undisclosed Meridian business. Police are still investigating how the men got possession of the stolen checks, according to reports.
The article also mentions how the driver of the car was wanted on an outstanding $750,000 arrest warrant for a failure to appear charge.

Based on the mug shot of Landell (Smith's is here) my guess is they were planning on using the ill-gotten booty for some acne medication.

(Completey unrelated aside: Whenever I use the phrase "ill-gotten booty" -- which is much more often than I should -- I can't help but remember Hawkeye's line from an episode of M*A*S*H: "I made it publicly known that there were fingerprints to be found on the stolen articles. Thereby tempting the criminal to repeat his crime...and retrieve his ill-gotten booty. Or, his ill-booten gotty.")

Update 0800 24 Jan: Fixed the link to the main story, which now has less information than I quoted. The Idaho Statesman has an annoying-for-bloggers business rule where they pull the "breaking news" versions of the story from their website when they put up the version that actually goes in the paper, so we have to go back and fix the links the next day.


VERY exciting news!

I had been hoping for this for years.

As I've mentioned before, the Civilian Marksmanship Program has been tasked by the government to distribute all surplus .30 caliber battle rifles to qualified civilians to promote militia marksmanship.

Primarily they have sold off (at below market prices) rebuilt M1 Garand semi-automatic battle rifles of WW2 and Korea vintage. They also have sold the earlier bolt-action M1903 models as well as smaller amounts of unusual rifles.

Though made in huge numbers, the M1903s are now basically gone, and the M1s are down to mostly NATO arms that were sent to Greece and subsequently returned. The ones from Denmark have also been depleted. Top-grade and "collector" grade M1s have dribbled to a standstill.

The frequently asked question over more than a decade had been, "will the CMP ever sell M1 Carbines?"

The Carbine is a smaller, lighter complement to the M1 Garand, intended as a sustitute for the .45 pistol for officers, drivers, etc, but was so handy it was in great demand.

The answer had always been, "Not any time soon."

They were made in the millions, but the CMP was partly worried about political concerns -- the M1 Carbine could take a "high capacity" magazine and might have been attacked as a dreaded "assault weapon."

But now with the assault-gun ban having expired, and the M1 Garands running low, it looks as that has changed!

Notice recently went out as follows:

29 December, 2006. The Army has transferred to the CMP a significant quantity of M1 Carbines. We are currently processing these carbines through our Inspection & Repair operations and expect to have some ready for sale by 1 March, 2007, but it may be sooner. More information will be posted on this web page as it becomes available.

At this time no decisions have been made as to grading, pricing, or limits. We are not accepting orders or establishing waiting lists at this time!!


I imagine people have gone nuts, as there is this update at the site:
23 Jan, 2007

If you haven't been able to get through to CMP lately or wonder why it is taking several days to get an email answered, it is partly because of all the calls and emails from customers asking if their files are current or if a new page 2a or club card is required. All of this in preparation for the upcoming carbine sales.
And here I went and recently got a commercial carbine instead of a genuine G.I. rifle, thinking I'd never see them in my lifetime. I didn't want to overspend in the collector market for a rifle I simply wanted to shoot, that would probably require much rebuilding anyway.

But with the CMP carbines, I can be sure of a minimum uniformly graded operational standard, at a reasonable price.

I can always use another...

Get ready!

Military Transformation

In the previous post, I alluded to the size of the army. Ideally, 1/3 would be deployed, 1/3 would be recovering, and 1/3 would be preparing to deploy.

The problem is, there were 780,000 army troops in the 1990s, but that number was steadily reduced to around 500,000 now. There were even more at the height of Reagan's buildup.

Note that such levels were supported on an all-volunteer force, so no "draft" would be required. Why we haven't rebuilt the army in the last 5 years to a larger size is a mystery and a huge mistake. At least it finally looks like it will happen.

The draft idea is designed to produce a huge anti-war backlash and isn't a serious idea. There isn't really a job for a short-term non-motivated draftee in the modern army -- the training just takes too long to get up to speed for a draftee to have a role.

The Iraq war has however speeded the "transformation" of the army into a much more flexible force. Not transformation in the futuristic sense, but away from inflexible cold-war organization and deployment.

For example, the 1st Armored and 1st Infantry divisions, after rotating through Iraq from their cold-war and obsolete posts in Germany, are not going back there, but have returned to the US for re-organization into Brigade Units of Action.

In fact, it appears only three brigades will remain permanently forward-deployed: one heavy brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division, in Korea; and two independent brigades (the 2d Cavalry Regiment and the 173d Airborne) in Europe. The whole V Corps in Europe, for example, is being disbanded. Take that, Old Europe!

See, the old idea was that the Division of about 15,000 troops was the main unit of deployment. It was at the divisional command level that lots of the support equipment such as extra artillery and transportation and intelligence was attached and administered. Nominally, each division (roughly speaking) was divided into 3 brigades of 3 maneuver battalions each (though the brigades weren't really fixed, but were task-force commands that had battalions assigned for specific missions), plus the extra divisional assets.

That meant we had about 30 combat brigades, though it wasn't easy to deploy all of them separately.

But through reorganization, we now have 43 independently deployable combat brigades (not counting National Guard)!

It had become obvious over time that brigades of 3,500 to 4,000 soldiers were more useful units to move around instead of whole divisions, especially if the brigades were given more modern firepower and direct control of some of what used to be divisional attached assets, such as of scouting and artillery.

Some of our forces could operate as independent brigades, but apparently some of the cold-war divisions were still really structured to work as a whole divisional unit and weren't very flexible if we needed pieces of them.

The new idea, now put into implementation, is to relegate the division to more of just a headquarters, to which now 4 brigades could be assigned; but it will be the new Brigade Units of Action or Brigade Combat Teams that will be the real independent tactical units of employment, with new organization.

Nominally assigned to ten division commands, that leaves three "independent" brigades: the heavy Third Armored Cavalry Regiment, the medium Second Cavalry Regiment, and the 173d Airborne brigade. Technically there are also a handful of training units that operate as the opposing enemy force or "OpFor" for wargames that can be deployed such as the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, but I think they are organized on Soviet doctrine.

One change is the new brigades now have only 2 maneuver battalions (i.e. of infantry or tanks) instead of 3 -- so in terms of maneuver battalions it's sort of a wash, which it kind of has to be as it's a reorganiztion of existing troops without changing their overall number -- but the brigades have extra cavalry/scout troops and artillery battalions that they didn't have before, or in such size.

Plans are to add 5 more independent brigades in the near future by expanding the number of soldiers.

The new structure also adds sniper teams at the company level, which is very interesting.

Basically, firepower has been pushed down to lower levels of command, in the form of heavy mortars, snipers, combat engineers, and drones.

As far as I can tell (and I'm no expert), this "new" brigade structure looks an awful lot like German WW2 regiment design. I'm very comfortable with copying the height of diabolical Prussian military thought on this topic. The more things change...

It's sure an improvement over the weird "Pentomic" concept of the 1950s...

There's also been a simplification and standardization of brigades. Brigades in different divisions had come to be very different from one another, even if they were both nominally supposed to be armored or infantry or whatnot.

Another interesting aspect is that it appears we are increasing the number of paratrooper brigades from four to six, which may be significant.

Now, there will simply be 3 main types, Heavy (armored), Medium (motorized), and Light (infantry). Click the links for org charts.

The 15 light infantry brigades will all be organized the same, and there will be apparently four subtypes depending on specialized training or specialization: one regular, four mountain, six airborne (paratroop), and four air assault (helicopter).

There will be 22 "heavy" armored brigades with tank and armored fighting vehicles for the infantry -- all tracked for mobility. The previous distinction between "armored" and "mechanized infantry" will be done away with -- the organization was only slightly different anyway and didn't make much sense.

And the six "medium" motorized infantry brigades, using the new and controversial wheeled family of Stryker vehicles, round out the force. They are particularly suited for urban environments.

Interestingly these medium brigades do have 3 maneuver battalions, because this was designed as the initial step to the transformed army and a different general took over before the other brigades were designed. I wouldn't be too surprised if these medium brigades (which have LOTS of assets organic to them) get reorganized into slightly smaller formations, creating more of them overall.

It also looks like former divisional assets will be divided into separate brigades as well, to be deployed as needed in support of other multi-brigade task forces. These include Aviation brigades of helicopters, Fires brigades with the really heavy rocket artillery and target location technology, and Surveillance brigades to gather signals information.

There are also interesting "Maneuver" and "Sustainment" brigades for "host nation support" to "multinational agencies." That sound like a step towards separate "peacekeeping" brigades in a mostly permissive environment, as they seem to have things like medics, communications, military police, and transportation. That is a HUGE benefit to keep the combat forces from having to do that kind of work. Some are even designed to be "joint" to work with the Marines.

In fact, in September, 2003, I wrote the following letter to SecDef Rumsfeld with the following suggestion:
Dear Mr. Secretary,

I propose the development of special “Peacekeeping Battalions” as part of the Army’s transformation. These new battalions would be used in “operations other than war” such as the humanitarian, nation-building, and peacekeeping missions that the Army can be expected to face in the future, freeing up dedicated warfighting resources for their primary function.

These Peacekeeping Battalions would be liberally supplied with Military Police and armored car companies for urban security and patrolling, engineers for public works and rebuilding, civil affairs and communications specialists for administration and public relations, and medics for humanitarian assistance. They would require neither expensive heavy armor nor artillery. In a non-permissive environment, they would be accompanied by warfighting battalions.

As a further advantage, by allowing recruits to volunteer explicitly for these battalions, more young people who are interested in serving their country but who are not necessarily warriors would be encouraged to enlist, which would then relieve the true warriors from performing these support functions and result in a better alignment of personnel with their strengths and desires. This will boost morale and enhance retention, as well as allow more focused training.
Well, he didn't write back. But the end result is moving in the direction I suggested (ha, as if my letter didn't go straight in the nut file -- but the idea must have been in the air, as it was so obvious).

If only the President would make a call for volunteers!

Demanding Defeat

Why isn't the MSM calling politicians on such obvious unseriousness and insanity?

The criticism had been "not enough boots on the ground."

The "solution" is therefore for Congress to attempt to prevent more troops from being deployed.

The criticism had been that "stay the course" was not working.

The "solution" is therefore for Congress to attempt to prevent any change of strategy.

Unless, presumably, it's to declare defeat and withdraw.

Although the motivation to simply defeat the REAL enemy -- G. W. Bush -- is so strong, I wouldn't be surprised to see Congress immediately resolve to demand total war if W were to suddenly say we can't win and are leaving tomorrow.

By the way, the notion we needed 500,000 troops in there instead of the 160,000 we used instead was always a canard, because that would represent the entire army and it would be impossible and ridiculous to have them all in Iraq. The point was to then say, oops, guess we can't do it, so we better not go to war at all!

And then what would be the odds Saddam Hussein would be building an A-bomb by now? That 1.77 tonnes of enriched uranium we removed after the invasion wasn't sitting around for his health -- and represented a stage much further along than Iran is right now. The Nuclear Control Institute was alarmed way back in 1999:
“According to officials involved in these decisions at the time [after the first Gulf War], the IAEA decided to permit Iraq to keep its LEU [Low Enriched Uranium] and natural uranium stocks for possible future use in a ‘peaceful’ nuclear program,” said Steven Dolley, NCI Research Director. “Agency officials also concluded that the cost of removing these materials from Iraq would be prohibitive, even though Iraq was required under U.N. mandate to pay all such expenses.”

The deadline for annual, routine inspection of this material, required under Iraq’s pre-Gulf War safeguards agreement with the IAEA, expired this week. Iraq has refused to issue visas to the IAEA inspectors, thereby blocking the inspection---a violation of its safeguards obligation under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Shortly after the Gulf War, IAEA and Bush Administration officials downplayed the risk of Iraq's LEU and natural uranium stocks, assuming that Iraq would not be technically capable of enriching the uranium to weapons-grade. However, Iraq’s development of high-speed centrifuges had advanced to the point that the deployment of a small, well-concealed centrifuge enrichment facility cannot be ruled out.

Dr. Edwin Lyman, NCI Scientific Director, calculated that Iraq’s low-enriched uranium stocks would be sufficient to produce over 45 kilograms of bomb-grade HEU, enough for two nuclear weapons. Only about 260 small centrifuges would be required to enrich this material to bomb-grade in one year. Iraq’s known stocks of natural uranium could be converted into an additional 70 kilograms of bomb-grade HEU over a somewhat greater length of time. Some 25 kilograms of HEU is officially considered the amount needed for a bomb, although nuclear weapons can be built with less.

“If Iraq continues to bar inspectors following today's Security Council action, there may be no way of knowing whether all the enriched and natural uranium, which was left under seal, is still there,” said Leventhal. “If Iraq doesn’t let the IAEA in, it would be prudent to assume the Iraqis have a reason for keeping the inspectors out---such as the material has been diverted to weapons use. In any event, there is no excuse for the IAEA not to insist on an inspection, or for the Security Council not to take up the matter urgently if the Agency is rebuffed.”
I can't believe how everyone forgets this when suggesting the removal of Saddam Hussein and his LEU wasn't worth it, when the inspectors had been kicked out and sanctions were crumbling!

Which is also why whether or not in one specific instance they were looking for Nigerian yellow cake is irrelevant (and regardless of Joe Wilson's lies, they probably were) -- they already had LEU which is much further along in the process.

Everyone fixates on the lack of finding obvious stockpiles of chemical weapons when we found the 1.77 tonnes of LEU and hauled it away shortly after the invasion. Somehow that doesn't count for anything at all, because alternate history apparently would have evolved in the most benign way imaginable, compared with the current situation, right?

What kind of risk planning is that?

Are we or aren't we supposed to connect the dots???

Was this not vital to our National Security?
Fifteen months after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, the United States has removed nuclear material from the country that posed a potential proliferation threat, Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced July 6 [2004].

Department of Energy experts packaged 1.77 metric tons of low-enriched uranium (LEU), as well as approximately “1,000 highly radioactive sources,” according to a press release. The Department of Defense then airlifted the material, which had been stored at the Tuwaitha Nuclear Research Center, to the United States on June 23.

The material could “potentially [have been] used in a radiological dispersal device or diverted to support a nuclear weapons program,” according to an Energy Department press release. A radiological weapon uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive material but is not nearly as powerful as a nuclear weapon. LEU can be used in civilian nuclear reactors but also can be further enriched for use as the explosive material in nuclear weapons.
If that's meaningless, we might as well hand Iran a bomb now.

Our Friends, The Saudis

Divide and conquer.
Top Saudi cleric declares Shiites to be infidels
A top Saudi Sunni cleric on Monday declared Shiites around the world to be heretics and urged Sunni Muslims around the world to expel Shiites from their land.

Abdullah bin Jabrain, a key member in Saudi Arabia's clerical establishment, joined a chorus of other senior figures from the kingdom's hard-line Wahhabi school of Sunni Islam who have deemed Shiites as infidels, the latest sign of increasing sectarianism in the Middle East.

"Some people say that the rejectionists (Shiites) are Muslims because they believe in God and his prophet (Muhammad), pray and fast. But I say they are heretics," said bin Jabrain in a statement posted on several Islamic Web sites.

"They are the most vicious enemy of Muslims, who should be wary of their plots," wrote bin Jabrain. "They should be boycotted and expelled so that Muslims spared their evil," he wrote.
Ha ha ha ha ha!

If the Democratization and Freedom Project(tm) fails because the people of the Middle East are tribal savages more interested in beggaring their neighbors than in Western Judeo-Christian ideals of co-prosperity and peace, the next best thing would be to incite open war between the two powerbases of islamic ideological evil, the Sunni Saudis and the Shiite Iranian clerics.

And then with the Chinese howling for open access to oil, the UN will beg us to seize the Iranian and Saudi oilfields -- conveniently near the coasts.

Even administered under standard UN corruption practices, it would be a vast improvement, as radical islam would then be starved of cash and fade into the desert, from whence it sprang.

And where it belongs.

The Saudi royals may be alarmed that the beast they've created by funding radical madrassas -- often the sole source of education in the godforsaken wastelands of Pakistan, Africa, and Indonesia (and even the heart of Europe!) -- for the last few decades might turn on its master for not being radical enough; but make no mistake, they keep on funding it.

Because they ARE Wahabbists through and through, and dressing them up in a suit doesn't change the fact that they are products of a brutal, primitive and abominable society.

As an example of how their evil has penetrated even into Britain, undercover footage recently revealed:
From these new bases Bergen predicts that Al-Qaeda will not only continue its low level campaign of violence but will go for another Big One. Maybe a radiological bomb on a Western City. Maybe something even bigger. But the questions he raises become eerie in the context of British TV's expose entitled Undercover Mosque. It follows the months-long attendance of an undercover reporter at a Saudi-funded mosque in London where the sermons were not only disturbing but outright inflammatory.

Much of "Undercover Mosque" was filmed with a hidden camera. The sound is clear, but the footage is often shaky and tentative. Ironically, this is now the predominant style for hip documentary filmmaking, which affects a nervous, frantic style. Here you have the real thing — it's nervous and frantic because it has to be. The preachers shown, including an African-American convert, are jaw-droppingly explicit in their revolutionary plans for Britain and the world.

One, Dr. Ijaz Mian, at the Regents Park Mosque in London, official seat of "moderate" Islam in Britain, talks openly about his desire to see Saudi-style religious police operating in the United Kingdom. He urges Muslims to wait until they are sufficiently numerous to make Britons surrender: "Hands Up!" Another predicts jihad will be waged against all nonbelievers and a British Islamic state established, with the flogging of drunkards, chopping off of thieves' hands, and jihad against non-Muslims all on the menu. "You have to live like a state within a state until you take over," he says. Women are "deficient," and should be marriageable before puberty because Muhammad himself married a nine-year-old. The animus against homosexuals and Jews is particularly virulent, meaning not merely condemnation, but explicit calls for their (eventual) murder. One imam even mimics a throat-cutting.

The initial vision behind Operation Iraqi Freedom was to provide an democratic alternative to the Muslim world. And the question implicit in any "redeployment" strategy or change in direction is quo vadis? Do we really mean to take on radical Islam in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Europe? Because they will still be there however far one flees from Iraq. And how do we intend to fight them in those places?
More than half of the 199 Sunni suicide attacks in Iraq -- the ones that cause all the horrific slaughter -- are commited by Saudis, and less than 10% by Iraqis themselves.

In other words, this "classic civil war", as the vacuous and idiotic Wolf Blitzer put it the other day (he's an expert now? Real military historians say differently), is really a proxy conflict between Saudi Arabia and Iran, taking place in Baghdad.

And we should encourage it!

As a strategy for the Iraqi Sunni Baathist remnants to support, it's a stupid idea, because at 15% of the population it's unsustainable. The Sunnis will simply all be cleansed from Iraq (certainly Baghdad) if they keep it up.

I will LMFAO at the irony if the first islamic A-bomb is dropped not on a Western city but on fellow meteorite-worshippers.

"Blue Monday"

Some psychologist in England decided that, because of unpaid Christmas bills, nasty weather, and failed New Year's resolutions, today was supposed to be the gloomiest day of the year. I read the story this morning, but knew that today wouldn't be gloomy for me, because a new episode of Heroes was going to be on tonight, and the almost two month hiatus was going to be over!

Unfortunately, it turned out to be the lamest episode of Heroes ever -- basically just a "reset" of all the storylines and some recaps to allow people who hadn't seen the first half of the season to catch up. Luckily, the day was essentially over by the time the episode finished, so I didn't have time to feel gloomy. (Plus, I got an E-mail from an old buddy who had found me through this blog, so I ended the day feeling pretty good.)

USS Perch (SS 176) Found In Java Sea

The final resting place of USS Perch (SS 176) has reportedly been found in the Java Sea by divers looking for the wreck of the cruiser HMS Exeter. The details can be found at the On Eternal Patrol website, along with several pictures (including this one):

Unlike with the recently-found graves of USS Wahoo (SS 238), USS Lagarto (SS 371), and USS Grunion (SS 216), the details of the final action of the Perch were well known. Perch was scuttled by her crew on March 3, 1942, after being severely damaged during a horrific depth charge attack two days earlier. The crew was taken prisoner -- six Submariners died during 3 1/2 years in a Japanese POW camp, but 53 survived.

Bell-ringer 0602 22 Jan: A commenter pointed out that I had the designation on the Perch wrong in the title to the post ("SSN" vs. "SS") -- it's fixed now.

Bell-ringer 0804 24 Jan: Here's a link to the post Anna talked about in the comments.

Those Who Unwittingly Interact With The Temporarily Stupid Are Also Punished

A few years back, I had an epiphany: since my sons and I had crewcuts, it seemed like a waste of $10 or so to go to the barber every couple of months when we could do just as good a job cutting each others hair with a set of $10 electric clippers. I bought said clippers, and since then I've saved a couple hundred bucks and we still had acceptable-quality low-maintenance, low-drag haircuts that make the ladies swoon.

That was until tonight. My oldest son, the Class President, asked me to cut his hair. I gave him the "#2 all over" look, and was down to the "final touch-up" phase. I noticed a tuft of hair sticking up on the back, so I went in with the clippers to take care of it... without remembering I had taken the guard off. Took off a swath of hair, boot camp-style, about five inches long and 2" wide, almost all the way to the top of his head. Uh-oh...

As I apologized profusely, we ended up deciding that a Marine "high-and-tight" would be our best shot of having him not look like a skinhead while covering up the visible evidence of my stupidity. Unfortunately for him, it didn't really work out too well. Maybe they'll let him wear a hat to school...

What Does Congressman Sali Have Against Geologists?

My regular readers will remember that I wasn't very enamored of the Republican nominee for Congress in my district last year, Bill Sali. He ended up winning the race with just under 50% of the vote, and is now in D.C. -- "standing up to the Democrats" by being on the losing end of every contested vote (frequently by large margins).

He made the news last week for getting up on the House floor to introduce a "symbolic" bill to reduce gravity; he intended to make the point that his proposal was as "unnatural" as increasing (or even having) a federally-mandated minimum wage. I suppose if he wants to waste his staff's time coming up with "humorous" bills like that, it's his right. But now, he's posted a draft copy of the "bill" on his website, and now that I've read it, I've got a bone to pick with him.

Check out this paragraph in the "Obesity Reduction and Health Promotion Act of 2007":
(7) The combination of caloric intake, busy schedule, sedimentary profession, and lack of exercise combine to result in an increase in weight in many Americans, including Members of Congress, expanding waistlines and bulges of various sizes and shapes.
Emphasis mine. Now, what evidence does Congressman Sali have that those in sedimentary professions are more subject to weight gain than other Americans? Don't rock-hunters spend more time outdoors than many others? Why does he pick on geologists, instead of lawyers or some other profession?

Seriously, I've complained before about Mr. Sali's staff not picking up typos on his campaign web site, but this is a little more serious. Shouldn't we expect someone who ran on a platform of (among other things) making English the country's official language be expected to use correct spelling in bills he submits to the U.S. House of Representatives? Couldn't we expect that a professional Congressional staff be able to recognize the difference between "sedentary" and "sedimentary"? (And I didn't even mention the badly written clause at the end of the sentence.)

"Bad Sailor"

Just a quick bookmark here (I haven't got a chance to read the whole thing) but it looks like this story in the San Diego Reader called "Bad Sailor" will be some interesting reading. It seems to be some sea and shore stories from a NavET on the Slave Labor Camp in the mid-90s. I think it might be for real, because I remember a Groton NEX clerk named Siobhan when I was stationed there about that time...

Update 0826 20 January: I finished the story -- it ends up being a downer. Still, I think most of us knew a sh*tbag or two, so you can read the story to see what it was like from their perspective.

MSP CO Relieved

Somewhat surprisingly, the CO of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708), CDR Edwin Ruff, has been relieved of command. I say "surprisingly" not because it doesn't fit in with the Sub Force's recent "tradition" of relieving COs whenever something bad happens on a boat that makes the press, but because it apparently wasn't done by the first Flag Officer in the chain of command. That officer, RADM Jeff Fowler, had recently issued CDR Ruff a punitive letter of reprimand, but didn't fire him on the spot. So, either RADM Fowler didn't coordinate the punishment with the upper brass ahead of time (highly unlikely), he didn't want his name attached to the action, the Sub Force doesn't want anyone not in a boat's "home" chain of command making these things happen, or the safety report came out with additional information that made VADM Munns (SubLant) decide to pull the trigger.

Staying at PD...

Update 2227 19 Jan: Here's the Navy NewsStand version of the story. Excerpt:
Following a review of the events in connection with a Dec.29 at-sea incident near Plymouth, England, Commander, Submarine Force, Vice Adm. Chuck Munns relieved Cmdr. Edwin Ruff, commanding officer, USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708), and reassigned him to the staff of Commander, Submarine Squadron 6 in Norfolk, Va. Munns took this action due to a loss of in confidence in Ruff’s ability to command.
Cmdr. Chris Williams, Deputy for Readiness, Submarine Squadron 6, and former Commanding Officer USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723), assumed command of USS Minneapolis-St. Paul Jan. 19.

"Navel" Officer In The Idaho Legislature

MountainGoat Report picked up on an interesting tidbit on the Idaho Legislature's website about one of my new state representatives:

Of all homonyms, I think people making mistakes with this one are among the most entertaining.

(I know this isn't Marv's fault -- from all I hear, he's a pretty good guy. I'm going to get word to him about the "error" so he can get it fixed...)

A Strange Way To Find Out About Breaking News

So I'm checking my referrers log, and I found that in the space of 13 minutes, I'd gotten 12 hits from all over North America from people searching for "Bob Vern". There's nothing about "Bob Vern" on Google News, or even on some of the more active message boards. I found out I was fairly high up on the Google Search for "Bob Vern" because of a comment someone made in a post back in 2005. It gets me to wondering -- are they searching for information on Bob Vern the actor? Did something happen to him? Should I go out and buy the URL "bobvern.com" just in case it's about to become a household name? I guess I'll have to find out in the morning.

Update 2313 22 Jan: It turns out that all the simultaneous searching was generated by a card at the end of that night's episode of "Grey's Anatomy" saying "In memory of Bob Vern", who was the father of one of the screenwriters. She discusses it here.

More Sign of Spine

Heard about the Minnesota muslim cab drivers refusing service first to people seen to have liquor in their luggage, and then to the blind who have guide dogs?

Not just once or twice, but en masse. Because islam says those things are unclean and cannot be transported.

Most of the Minnesota cab drivers are Somali muslims and that community seems to have received a fatwa to deny the service -- to show their dominance over us.

If we buckle to that logic, they can then demand women keep their heads covered, or be accompanied by males, to be transported in their cabs.

Or that you, infidel, cannot ride at all.

In fact, it's been popping up in news accounts all over the world the last few years in what appears to be a coordinated campaign directed by the muslim brotherhood terror front organization.

Make no mistake, the muslim world is consciously waging war on our culture on all fronts.

The case at the airport in Minneapolis has come to a head:
Minnesota Muslim taxi drivers could face crackdown
A large number of taxi drivers in the area of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are Muslim Somali immigrants.

Many of them say they feel the faith's ban on alcohol consumption includes transporting anyone carrying it. Some have also refused to transport dogs, both pets and guide dogs, saying they are unclean.

Under the proposal -- which is also aimed at drivers who refuse to take short-haul passengers in favor of more lucrative long trips -- a first offense would result in a 30-day cab license suspension and a second a two-year license revocation.
Hesham Hussein, a spokesman for the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, said that group, in trying to work out a compromise last year, told the commission that Islamic law prohibits not only the drinking but the selling and transport of alcohol. He said the group said nothing about dogs and would not agree that a person with a seeing-eye dog should be denied a ride. [Liar! Then why is that happening all over the world? There's no denying the commandments of mohammed against dogs -- ed.]

The compromise the group tried to work out involved marking cabs to alert dispatchers and customers to those who would not transport alcohol so they would not be hailed or called up from queues.

The commission rejected that idea and Hussein told Reuters that approach idea now appears to be dead. Given the "social polarization" and intolerance among some in the country, he said, the "cards are stacked" against the drivers.
Who's the one being intolerant, Hussein?

If we want to live like Somalis, we can go move there.

It's almost amazing these days to see common sense prevail over pandering and obeisance.

Here are other examples from around the world.

A Muslim minicab driver refused to take a blind passenger because her guide dog was "unclean."

Abdul Rasheed Majekodumni told Jane Vernon she could not get into his car with the dog because of his religion. Islamic tradition warns Muslims against contact with dogs because they are seen as impure.

The case emerged as Jack Straw was embroiled in a controversy over Muslim women wearing veils and the row continued after a Muslim police officer was excused guard duty at the Israeli embassy. [It's now also known a terrorist wanted in the deadly subway bombings in London escaped by wearing a full burqa, knowing the authorities would be too PC to check his identity when going through customs -- ed.]

Today Mrs Vernon, 39, from Hammersmith, said: "This experience was very upsetting. I was tired and cold and just wanted to get home but this driver made me feel like I was a second-class citizen, like I didn't count at all."

Mrs Vernon, who works as a legal officer for the Royal National Institute for the Blind, added: "The owner of the minicab firm, Niven Sinclair, was also very insensitive, telling me that what had happened to me wasn't really very important, and I should have more respect for other people's culture. They have shown very little respect for my rights as a disabled person and have never once offered me an apology."
Grethe Olsen, accompanied by her guide dog Isak, experienced being rejected by no less than 21 taxis before finally getting a ride. Olsen thinks the taxi drivers said no for religious reasons. The Norwegian Blind Association confirms that this is a well known problem all over the country, especially in cities with many [muslim] immigrants. It arises when a blind person accompanied by a guide dog wants to take a taxi from a stand, instead of ordering one in advance.
MUSLIM taxi drivers are refusing to carry blind passengers with their guide dogs or anyone carrying alcohol.

At least 20 dog-aided blind people have lodged discrimination complaints with the Victorian Taxi Directorate. Dozens more have voiced their anger. And there have been several complaints that drivers refuse to allow passengers to carry sealed bottles of alcohol.

There are about 2000 Muslims among drivers of Melbourne's 10,000 taxis. Many are from countries with strict Islamic teachings about "unclean" dogs and the evils of alcohol.

Guide Dogs Victoria spokeswoman Holly Marquette said blind people regularly reported taxi drivers refusing to carry them because of their dogs.
A case potentially pitting rights of the disabled against religious beliefs will be heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal after a blind man from the North Shore who uses a guide dog to get around launched a complaint against North Shore Taxi.

Bruce Gilmour filed the complaint after a cab driver from North Shore Taxi refused to let his guide dog into the cab in January of this year. Gilmour, who says it's not the first time he's been refused service by a taxicab, is complaining that North Shore taxi discriminated against him on the basis of physical disability.

But the taxi driver, Behzad Saidy, is arguing his Muslim religious beliefs will not allow him to take dogs in his taxi, because Muslims can't associate with dogs.

According to documents filed with the Human Rights Tribunal, North Shore Taxi said about half of their drivers are "unable to take animals in their taxis due to medical or religious reasons."
Just a few misguided individuals who don't understand that islam is all about peace and tolerance?

Or a clear pattern?

More at Daniel Pipes, showing how CAIR, the terror front that poses as a civil-rights group and has the ear of our naive government, springs to the defense of these barbarians.

This has to stop.

These attacks on our disabled are intolerable, and these alien beliefs are an infection in our society.

Stop muslim immigration now, before they have the numbers to impose their will politically.

PCU New Mexico Unit Crest Revealed

Last spring, I mentioned that the New Mexico Council of the Navy League was holding a contest for New Mexico residents to design the unit crest for PCU New Mexico (SSN 779). Well, the crew has voted, and the winning design has been announced. Here it is:

It is a very unique design; you'll definitely be able to pick it out of a crowd. The other finalists and semi-finalists can be found here; I admit to being partial to the more "traditional" designs (like the 2nd, 4th, and 5th ones down on the right under "Semi-finalists") but the one the crew picked is very nice. I'll even admit that it's far better than my suggestion -- although I hope that the crew is still considering my nomination for the ship's motto ("Slower Than A Seawolf"). I haven't had much luck in the past for getting my motto suggestions accepted, though; for example, my CO on Connecticut picked "Arsenal of the Nation" as our ship's motto, completely ignoring my suggestion: "We regret that our enemies have but one life to give for their country".
Update 0605 19 January: While some don't seem to like the New Mexico's new crest, I think we can all agree that it's better than USS Seawolf's "drowning dog":

Word on the street is that the first several crest designs the crew submitted to Big Navy were rejected for having the wolf look "too warlike" -- remember, this was in the late 90s.

So Much To Blog... So Little Time

There are quite a few interesting things going on in the submarine world today, and here I am without enough time to blog about them. Hopefully I'll get back to them, but until then, here are some snippets:

1) The CO and former XO of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708) received punitive letters of reprimand for the incident in which two crew members lost their lives when they were washed overboard late last year. From the Stars and Stripes:
Rear Adm. Jeff Fowler, commander of Submarine Group 8, conducted five nonjudicial punishment hearings Tuesday related to the Dec. 29 incident and issued letters of reprimand for the top two officers, said Lt. Chris Servello, a spokesman with Naval Forces Europe/6th Fleet. Fowler dismissed charges against three other crewmembers: two officers and a chief petty officer, Servello said.
The sub’s commander, Cmdr. Edwin Ruff, took command of the Minneapolis-St. Paul in December 2004. Servello declined to name the former executive officer, citing privacy laws. Typically, information on nonjudicial punishment hearings is not released publicly. The former executive officer had been replaced because of a normal rotational cycle, not because of the incident.
“The decision made today was made in the best interest of crew safety and future mission success,” Servello said when asked why Fowler decided to keep Ruff as commander.
From what I've heard about the accident, this seems like a fair resolution. I knew then-Captain Fowler when he was CSS-3, and I always thought he seemed like an outstanding leader. This decision on his part bears that out, IMHO.

2) My "favorite" writer for Soldiers For The Truth, Lt. Raymond Perry USN (Ret.), is still writing about submarines -- in this case, the recent collision between USS Newport News (SSN 750) and a Japanese tanker. I haven't had a chance to really check the article for evidence of asshattedness (only for poor spelling in the first 4 paragraphs, like "contruction" and "quntity"), but I expect to find some soon.

3) Today's the 52nd anniversary of USS Nautilus' first underway on nuclear power. Here's what I wrote for the 50th anniversary.

4) Strategy Page has a story up on the recent submarine accidents and the Stand Down. Part of it says that "...now the admirals are paying more attention to the chiefs (Chief Petty Officers, senior NCOs) complaints about how much tighter things were back-in-the-day." Whenever I asked crusty old Master Chiefs what things were like "back-in-the-day", they talked about a lot more grab-ass and significantly easier drill scenarios. So what's the real story? (Personally, I think it's a combination of 1) operating a lot closer to traffic lanes, and 2) having every little hiccup make the press, that's making it look like the Sub Force isn't doing as well nowadays.)

5) A reader pointed out this photo in the SubSim coverage of the USS Texas (SSN 775) media embark last August; the caption says: "The COB dispensing liberty passes". Look at the photo in the link above and see if you can see "what's wrong with this picture".

Doesn't it seem like there are a lot of petty officers with dolphins lining up for liberty cards? Was that just a photo op for the press, or is there some new requirement for qualified NCOs to have liberty cards?

6) Almost forgot this one -- a former Russian admiral has an explanation for the USS Newport News collision:
Former Russian Black Sea Fleet Commander Admiral Edward Baltin said Tuesday that the presence of so many nuclear submarines in the Arab Gulf waters pointed to likely plans for a US attack against Iran.
Baltin, who was quoted by Interfax news agency, said the presence of US submarines in Gulf waters meant that Washington was contemplating a strike against Iran.
"The presence of the submarines indicates that Washington has not abandoned plans to launch a sudden attack against Iran," the admiral said.
He blamed Monday's collision between a US submarine and a Japanese sea liner near the Strait of Hormuz on the fact that US submarines needed to sail relatively higher than their usual depths to get clearer vision enabling them to zero in on likely targets.
[Emphasis mine] And this guy's a former submariner, too. No wonder we kicked their asses in the Cold War.

Blinded Me With Science

"Soft" kill of a guided missile with a laser was known to be the easiest thing to do with current power levels and wavelengths available in conveniently-produceable lasers -- that is, by burning out or dazzling the guidance unit.

The procurement guys however were always saying, gee, come on, that's not exciting, I want something to blow up! Give me Flaming Wreckage!!!

Unless a demonstration in the field for the top brass produced Flaming Wreckage, there was little interest in funding the project.

Well the real-world demands of the GWOT seem to have finally filtered through the dinosauric beast's nervous system, producing this news item:
Jet with anti-missile system leaves LAX
LOS ANGELES - An MD-10 cargo jet equipped with Northrop Grumman's Guardian anti-missile system took off from Los Angeles International Airport on a commercial flight Tuesday, the company said.

The FedEx flight marked the start of operational testing and evaluation of the laser system designed to defend against shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles during takeoffs and landings.

Adapted from military technology, Guardian is designed to detect a missile launch and then direct a laser to the seeker system on the head of the missile and disrupt its guidance signals. The laser is not visible and is eye-safe, the company said.
The testing is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Counter-Man Portable Air Defense Systems program. BAE Systems has also been working for the government on a similar airliner defense system and has successfully tested it.
About time! Hurray.

Of course, the article then has to quote go-to wet-blanket guy John Pike:
John Pike, a defense analyst at GlobalSecurity.org, an Alexandria, Va., think tank, suggested that development of the system was the lesser of issues for the airline industry.

"I think the problem is making the numbers work in the sense of figuring out who's going to pay for it," he said.
Oh please.

How much would YOU pay extra for a ticket to have an anti-missile laser on board???

Enough to cover the costs of they system, I'm sure.


One always hears the difficulties our GWOT endeavors face, but rarely is there a discussion of the flipside, i.e. the difficulties of our enemies.

Quagmire for the Goose or Quagmire for the Gander?

Take Iraq for instance (Please! ba-dum-bump!)

Oh my dear, it's costing is SOOOOO much, how can we ever afford to go on???

Now consider our opponents. Iran for instance.

Iran is stirring up trouble.

Making it a Quagmire for us!

Ever consider Iraq is a Quagmire for Iran? I mean, they can't possibly EVER let Iraq succeed as a relatively stable, relatively open, and prosperous country.

The moment that happens, it's over for the despots in the region. Hussein on a rope, judged by the people, is unprecedented and haunts their every moment.

Think how much in resources Iran must put into Iraq, and how it absolutely cannot ever stop worrying as long as we're there.

What is the economic power of Iran compared with the poor old US of A?

Who is going to be able to outlast, outplay, and outspend whom?

Is our economy twice as big? Three times? Ten times? Twenty times? Fifty times?


More like seventy times as large!

Iran's GDP on an exchange-rate basis is about $181 billion.

Compared with twelve and a half TRILLION, that's peanuts.

The Pentagon budget alone is two and a half times the size of Iran's entire economic output, even with oil prices at sky-high levels.

Ah, that's an interesting point, isn't it?


Iran's economy depends very much on the price of oil.

Which, if you've noticed, has strangely fallen off a cliff in the last few weeks.

Could be simple coincidence.

Of course, the Saudis are alarmed by Iranian ascendancy, and have hinted they'll ramp up oil production to flood the market and kill prices. As the low-cost producer, they'll still make a little money whereas Iran would go to the poorhouse.

Seizing Iran's oil assets or keeping out refined gasoline with a blockade (they can't produce their own fuel from the oil, they're so backward) would also be easy and destroy the regime in a jiffy.

They might rather be spending money on new centrifuges for atmoic weapons.

But instead, they're bogged down running an insurgency in Iraq, poor things.

Some might counter that insurgency tactics are ridiculously cheap to enact compared with our bloated armed forces -- though one counter to that is to ask each side if they wanted to switch positions and resources and see who bites.

The other counter to that is to note that running a Los Pepes counter-insurgency is also really inexpensive and has been proven to get quick results.

Don't forget the flipside. The Friction of War cuts both ways.

Stennis Deploying Today

My old aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) -- OK, it wasn't really "mine", since I was just a staff weenie, but I did do a deployment on her -- is deploying from Washington state today on her way to the Fifth Fleet AOR. She was originally going to do a WestPac, but got her orders switched last month; the Reagan will be handling her original WestPac responsibilities. Expect this news to touch off a new round of "we're about to attack Iran" nonsense. I blogged about this several times recently, but I'll probably look at it again soon. In the meantime, please feel free to discuss in the comments.

(Bonus fun skimmer fact: When I deployed on the Stennis, I found that the skimmers called a deployment a "cruise". How lame is that?)

Update 0017 17 January: Here's the Navy NewsStand article on the Stennis getting underway.

Update 2347 21 January: And here's the Navy NewsStand article on the Stennis leaving San Diego after picking up her air wing.

Ordnung Muss Sein

Germany enforces some order.

I am so pleased to see an example of Western culture standing up for itself, instead of buckling to alien values out of some misguided notion of "fairness"!
German court upholds ban on head scarves

MUNICH, Germany - A court on Monday upheld a ban on Muslim teachers wearing head scarves in the schools of a German state under a law that says teachers' attire must be in line with "western Christian" values.

A Berlin-based Islamic association had complained about the law, which authorities in the conservative-run state of Bavaria have used to ban head scarves while allowing Roman Catholic nuns to continue to wear their head-covering habits in schools.

The Bavarian Constitutional Court ruled on Monday that the application of the law in the state neither violated religious freedom nor was discriminatory.

However, a lawyer for the Islamic Religious Community said some of its members were considering taking their case to the Federal Constitutional Court, Germany's highest court.

Authorities in several states, including Baden-Wuerttemberg and Hesse, have introduced similar head scarf bans.
Good for them.

Keep pushing things, mohammed, and you'll soon be hearing mussulman, raus!

Canadian View on Afghanistan

NATO forces in Afghanistan are doing marvelous work, though the MSM (especially in Canada) is full of doom and gloom.

An interesting Canadian blog called The Black Rod provides an update. See the whole thing, but here are some excerpts detailing recent events; 2007 is off to a fine start!
This week U.S. reconnaissance units spotted a couple of hundred Taliban fighters massing in the neighbouring North Waziristan area of Pakistan, where power has been virtually ceded to Taliban and Al Qaeda forces. UAV's watched as a fleet of lorries drove the men to the border and into Paktika, Afghanistan, in two columns, accompanied by several pick-up trucks later found to be full of ammunition. Pakistani forces helped monitor the fighters.

Coalition forces waited until the columns had gone just over a mile into Afghanistan. Then they pounced. Apache helicopters decimated the columns with their missiles and machine guns (645 rounds per minute) and attack aircraft dropped 500 and 1000-pound bombs on the surprised Taliban fighters. The fighting, if you can call it that, lasted over 9 hours as helicopters tracked survivors of the ambush through the mountains as they tried to escape.
This week we heard the details of a pitched four-day series of running firefights which may be the most important coalition victory yet even if the Canadian press hasn't caught on.

The Battle for Kajaki Dam started New Year's Day. 150 British troops--- Royal Marine Commandos backed by two Apache helicopter gunships and a special forces reconnaissance team--- swept through Kajaki and the nearby neighbourhood of Kajaki Olya, house by house, driving out Taliban fighters who had set up a training camp in the area.

British military officials said the enemy dead could be measured in "dozens". An agency close to the insurgents, Arab Islamic Press, said the figure was close to 100. The only casualty to NATO forces was one soldier who was shot in the hand.

But in this case it isn't the casualty count that's important. It's the prize.

By clearing out Taliban fighters from the area, the Brits have opened the way to complete the Kajaki Dam project, the single most important infrastructure project in southern Afghanistan.

When it was operational, the dam was the biggest single source of electricity in all of Afghanistan. In 2003 its two turbines seized up. Temporary repairs kept the dam functioning at a fraction of its capacity. Seven months ago Taliban attacks completely halted the project to replace the generators and build new transmission lines.

When finished, the dam will provide power for 1.8 million people! At the same time it will triple the area that can be irrigated in Helmand province, which means local farmers can grow food instead of poppies which thrive in soil too dry to grow wheat. This would be an immense blow to drug dealers who fund the Taliban and supply fighters.
On Wednesday, Scots Marines, backed by Estonian and Danish troops, took on 50 Taliban fighters in houses and ditches near the town of Gereshk in their fiercest battle yet in Afghanistan. At times the fighters were only 40 yards apart.

As NATO forces built checkpoints to keep the Taliban away from Gereshk, at the request of local elders, they were ambushed. NATO troops stormed a compound and fought the insurgents house to house before the Taliban, in long flowing robes and black turbans, were routed with the help of two Harrier jump jets and a couple of thousand-pound bombs. Then they found what the insurgents were protecting---a bomb-making factory.

And on Thursday, in the largest pre-planned operation in Helmand since British troops got there, between 60 and 100 Taliban fighters were killed when NATO forces attacked two compounds in a village near the town of Garmsir in the middle of the night. Snipers pinned down the insurgents as Apache gunships went to work. Among the dead was a local Taliban commander.
Canadian forces expanded their presence west to the Jalai district of Kandahar, a former Taliban stronghold. They met no resistance, which is the gold standard of the current mission, Operation Falcon's Summit. They've begun setting up checkpoints and clearing the roads of IED's.
So, cause for celebration?

Of course not!

The Black Rod points out that news coverage has been very predictably negative with such headlines as:
Afghanistan 'sliding into chaos'
Vancouver Sun, Montreal Gazette

Afghan mission 'doomed to fail'
Ottawa Citizen

Afghanistan headed for chaos
Edmonton Journal


The Press is determined to put a negative spin on every story out of Afghanistan. This is the Vietnam template.
Remember the Dread Afghan Winter that was supposed to do us in, uh, five years ago? Never mind that now, it's the Dread Spring Offensive that's going to get us!

The Black Rod goes on to wonder:
Why didn't we see headlines reading:

Canada Saved Afghanistan: Expert

We Did It, We Beat 'Em

NATO Tipped The Scales, Beat Back Terrorist Threat

Because that would suggest we're winning. That we can win. That Canada's role in Afghanistan is a good one.

And that would defeat everything the Press has tried to say since the start of the mission.
I really wonder why all these defeatists seem to think they have no stake in the outcome -- or if they do, that losing will be a positive thing.

Because they sure aren't acting as if they want to win. They'd rather poison everyone's mind with negative propaganda to sap the will to fight.

The Black Rod details the media campaign of the Taliban which the MSM eagerly regurgitates:
The Taliban has recognized it can't win a fighting war with NATO, so its changed tactics to fight a media war. Phase One is to offer "proof" that it controls the country and has NATO on the run.

The insurgents tried out this strategy in 2006. It's simple. A force of 50-100 fighters crosses into Afghanistan from Pakistan. It takes over a village for half a day. It burns down a few buildings, maybe kills some police officers, then disappears before the Afghan army shows up. A news release is issued declaring that the Taliban has seized Village X which is reported everywhere.
Whatever psychological payoff the MSM may get from defeat, I hope more regular people realize that's not going to be harmful in the long run, and reject defeatism.

The Black Rod, by the way, refers to:
The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England. Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.
Keep it up!