Saturday, January 12, 2002

Nimitz?

I did a doubletake upon seeing this article reporting on the double suicide of "NIMITZ — Chester W., Rear Admiral, age 86, and his wife, Joan Labern Nimitz, age 89, of Needham and Wellfleet, Mass., and formerly of Boca Grande, Fla." At first I thought it was the Admiral Nimitz until my brain kicked in and reminded me that Adm. Nimitz died in 1966. The rest of the article goes on to talk about the Hemlock Society and all that, but I'm wondering if somebody hasn't been snookered.

UPDATE: As many emailers have informed me, it's Nimitz's son (who had quite a distinguished career himself). That little factoid missing from the above link is found here at the Boston Globe's report.
My Muse! Ted Rall be thy Name!

Will Warren has a new poem inspired by Ted Rall's latest opinion piece. Never have so many been indebted to so few for making so little sense.

Friday, January 11, 2002

Curioser and Curioser

The Washington Post has a curious story about an Egyptian man who lied about having a VHF radio in his place that overlooked the WTC.
Gunships and Loose Lips

An alert reader sends in this link to a compendium of material covering Rumsfeld's attempts to shut off leaks of information to the AF's plan to buy more AC-130's.
We now hear the new fiscal 2003 budget will include money for more special operations AC-130 gunships. Gen. Tommy Franks, the war commander, has used the hovering battleships to blast terrorist targets from Tora Bora to Kandahar. With few air defenses to worry about, the plane's highly accurate cannons can kill people and destroy vehicles as targets emerge.

Sources say the Pentagon will buy four to eight of the converted C-130 aircraft, adding to Air Force Special Operations inventory of 21 AC-130s.
Gen. James Jones, the Marine Corps commandant, was so impressed by the gunships he is thinking of buying a Marine version.
Please, please, please. If there is a God, please let me be a crew chief on one of these.
KC-130 Crash

The New York Times has profiles of some of those killed in the KC-130 crash.
Blog Note

I've recieved an enormous amount of email today for some reason. Must be a full moon or something. Anyways, it may take me awhile to reply to all of them, so please bear that in mind.
Reader Mail

An insightful reader chimes in with his thoughts on the number of ground troops in Afghanistan:
One thing the military needs to hit the "more ground troops in Afghanistan" idiots with is the old axiom:

Amateurs talk strategy; professionals talk logistics.

Afghanistan is a bloody long way off. I don't know how much airlift it would take to relocate and support 12,000 strong light division with transport, ammo, food, and POL on virtually the other side of the world into a land locked country but it's got to be alot. These people, like Ted Rall, who feel we should just drop a Corps in the 'stan and let them supply via the local KMart need to be reminded of how many trucks travel our highways to keep the gas stations and supermarkets open in a a relatively small town, say Bishop in California. They forget the long logistics build up before the Gulf War and the chance that Swartzkopf took by focusing on tooth rather than tail in the initial deployment.

The reason the Marines were there first is they are small (an MEU is about 2,100 men), they have local support from the ships, and they were packed and ready to go. The brilliance of the Afgan campaign is the use of Special Forces and air to create incredible force multipliers and get operations rolling within a month. If we had waited for an Airborne Corps to be inserted, we would still be hearing about the Quagmire.
If anyone else out there has some good stories about logistical nightmares, let's hear them. Perhaps, as this emailer suggested to me, we start demonstrating how hard it is to actually move stuff around and supply it, people will have a greater understanding and appreciation for the vital role logistics plays.
Grab your ears, give 'em a tug, then pull your head out of your buttocks

Apparently, some people have forgotten the difference between being comfortable and being humane or we wouldn't have newspaper articles about it.
U.S. troops did not violate the rights of prisoners from the war in Afghanistan by shaving and shackling them, the Pentagon said Friday.

"That’s not correct ... that it’s a violation of their rights," Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said. "It simply isn’t."

In answer to a question at a press conference, Rumsfeld said one prisoner was sedated from among the 20 flown out of Afghanistan on a C-17 for detention in Cuba.

"These are people who would gnaw through hydraulic lines in the back of a C-17 to bring it down," Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the Pentagon press conference with Rumsfeld.
Can someone tell me what kind of world we live in where "Shaving and shackling" someone is a violation of human rights? Where sedating a passenger for the safety of the aircraft and it's crew is questioned? I didn't see anybody jumping up and down to criticize American Airlines for sedating Richard Reid three times. Christ, I swear sometimes that these people want everyone to wait for something to happen before we're allowed to do anything. It gives them the benefit of criticizing everyone for not taking the proper precautions in the first place. Being proactive prevents shit, being reactive allows shit to happen. Which one is morally superior?


On a seperate note, I'd like to see someone who could gnaw through a hydraulic line with the state of dentistry being what it is in that part of the world. John Walker may have a chance, but gnawing through stainless steel or annealed aluminum is quite a feat. Also, not to embarass the General, but if someone were able to actually gnaw through a hydraulic line, it wouldn't really bring the plane down. It'd piss off a hydraulic troop, but it wouldn't bring the plane down.
The IG Team is Here

The DoD IG is investigating irregularities with the previous two Osprey crash investigations. That's not good. When the IG gets called in, somebody takes the hit no matter what, and it's usually not someone with stars on their shoulders.
Saudi Arabia Land of Mordor Watch

The Horn of Gondor has sounded, calling all the free peoples of Middle-Blog to bear witness against Mordor. John Cole answers the call with a staggering broadside of information about the Enemy in Mordor.

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Come Get Some 2.0

(I only had about ten minutes to whip this out the first time. I've made some minor adjustments so people other than Ted will understand it better.)

Ted Rall, SuperComic, has enlightened the world with his latest opinion column. These guys are making it too easy nowadays, but here we go.
Conspiracy theories are funny things: the wackier they sound, the more likely they are to be true.
Yep, just like we found out that the Cubans contracted the Mafia to assassinate JFK using a plan drafted by the CIA and the military.
The fires of September were still burning when I, among others, suggested that the Bush regime's Afghan war might have more to do with old-fashioned oil politics than bringing the Evil Ones to justice.
The "others" he refers to are the voices in his head brought about by acute schizophrenia induced by the persistant belief that he is the Keeper of the Cheese and "they" will stop at nothing to sieze his precious fromage. This paranoia leads him to believe that the current war was fueled by oil politics. Sorry Ted, I think you're looking for the Gulf War. That's about ten years back on the left under "Kuwait".
Little did I know how quickly I would be proven right.
Well, it's easy to prove yourself right when you just make some shit up. For example, I am Lord Bushburry of Dargoran. I know this because I have servants who yell, "Dear Lord!" when I break wind and no man has ever come to challenge my claim to Dargoran. I have also read many books on medieval life and a quick survey of my lair finds that I have amenities and luxuries undreamt of by mere commoners of the era. I also have serfs and peasants who tend my vast property. Some may call them "groundskeepers", but I have christened them the Royal Shrub Trimmers of Dargoran. Therefore, it must be true.
Moreover, the American military strategy in Afghanistan -dropping bombs without inserting a significant number of ground troops-all but guaranteed that Osama would live to kill another day.
We have 4,000 troops in country and thousands more in the surrounding region. What is your definition of significant? I think you're just pissed because you were denied the chance to yell "Quagmire!" and question the large numbers of lives lost in the war. Denied both, you've scraped past the bottom of the barrel and have made good progress into the ground. That's fine if you're The Tunnel King, but not if you're a hack who actually gets paid for this shit.
So the Third Afghan War obviously isn't about fighting terrorism-leading cynics to conclude that it must be about (yawwwwwwn!) oil. Bush and Cheney were both former oil company execs, after all, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was corporate counsel at Chevron. Unbeknownst to most Americans [but beknownst to me!] , oil fields dot northern Afghanistan near its border with Turkmenistan. But the real jackpot is under the Caspian Sea. Between confirmed and estimated oil reserves, Kazakhstan is destined to become the world's largest oil-producing nation, and will one day dwarf even Saudi Arabia
I thought you were talking about Afghanistan. Jesus, you're all over that newly purchased Rand-McNally World Atlas. Congratulations, you have correctly identified some of the major geographical features of Central Asia.

Besides, I think you need to spend less time looking for boogeymen under the bed and more time figuring out "side-benefits". You know, positive shit that comes out of fighting against the terrorists and ousting the Taliban? Oil was not a motivating factor (as I'm sure more than 3,000 families will tell you), but if it's a nice bonus, so be it. It's like saying we fought the Japanese to secure the rubber trees in the Dutch East Indies.
Rising energy prices helped push the economy into recession; perhaps 90-cent gas will work where interest rate cuts failed. Once again, the pipeline plan is hot.
In case you haven't noticed, gas prices have remained unchanged or have even lowered since the war began without the benefit of this pipeline. Also, there was a little thing called the "Dot.Com" crash where over a trillion dollars of wealth was wiped out. I think that might have had something to do with the recession. Besides, we've had Russia pumping out enough oil in spite of OPEC to meet our needs. Of course, you're probably one of those hip urbanites who uses public transportation, so you are only assuming gas prices are the prime motivating factor for the peasantry in the suburbs. If this were the case, we would've invaded Afghanistan a year ago when gas prices were near $2.00 and home heating oil prices went through the roof. Christ, next you'll be saying that we're about to invade Mexico because the looming brutal southwest summer will push California's energy problem over the brink. But what does all this have to do with the price of tea in China?
And a front-page story in the January 9 New York Times reveals that "the United States is preparing a military presence in Central Asia that could last for years," including a building permanent air base in the Kyrgyz Republic, formerly part of the Soviet Union. (The Bushies say that they just want to keep an eye on postwar Afghanistan, but few students of the region buy the official story.)
Well, you're just a cartoonist, so we can't expect you to know everything, now can we? If you had rudimentary knowledge of military strategy, you would realize that the U.S. has inadequate force projection in that theater and requires an airbase not only for a physical presence, it also requires the ability to respond to a situation within minutes. So isn't it slightly possible that we may want to have some influence on events in that region for reasons other than oil?

Hell, by your logic, we currently maintain bases in Japan and Korea for the sole purpose of ensuring the cheap flow of electronics from the Far East into American homes. If the price of DVD players goes up, Bush will invade China to break us free of the SONY cartel so we can get our fix of cheap electronics and pull us out of the recession. Shit, I think I just went over your head. Don't worry, you can go back to your doodling until you pretend to play "Mr. Important Person" and start talking out of your ass again.
(Ted Rall, the cartoonist and columnist, is currently working on the first-ever "instant graphic novel, "To Afghanistan and Back," about his recent experiences covering the Afghan war.)
(Sgt. Stryker, the mechanic and smart-ass, is currently working on his first-ever bag of "instant rice ". If he were to write a novel, it'd probably be titled, "God, These Assholes Come Out of the Woodwork Everytime There's a War On," about his recent experiences covering those dipshits who've had their heads up their asses while covering the Afghan war.)

Keep a lookout for Ted's new novel. Coming soon to all fine supermarket checkout lanes everywhere.






Even a Broken Clock's Right Twice a Day

What I wrote December 20, 2001:
I'm also certain that as time goes on, we'll start hearing from military women about the humiliation they must suffer while pulling their rotations, like having to ride in the back seat of cars everywhere like second class citizens and being forced to wear the head-to-toe garment when off base.
Well, here you go courtesy of the Independent:
But the career of Martha McSally may be about to be shot down. She and other women serving in Saudi Arabia wear the abaya robes when they leave base because they are obliged to. US military regulations insist that servicewomen must always wear an abaya when leaving the base. There is more. Out of respect for local religious custom, Lt Col McSally may not drive the car herself. (That is almost funny. She can pilot a plane, but is not permitted to take the wheel of the Suburban.) In fact, she is not even allowed in the front. And she must have a male escort.

Poetry

Check out Unremitting Verse. It's a neat site with poetry inspired by current events.
From my blood to your immune system

The Air Force Times has a story titled Anthrax serum to come from immunized troops’ blood.
The government is adding an experimental anthrax treatment to the nation’s bioterrorism drug stockpile, a protective protein culled from the blood of soldiers who received the anthrax vaccine.
3 Billion a year to these people

LGF has a link to a story about Egyptian culpability in the recent Palestinian arms shipments that, if true, is disturbing. Whenever I read stories about these "friendly" governments and their intel services, I keep seeing this mental image of a friendly face smiling at us, while a shadowy figure prepares to stab us in the back.
News Update

sgtstryker.com has been successfully registered. Don't try entering that in the adress bar, there's nothing there for now. If the donations keep up, I can work on hosting for the site. I'm still deciding whether to go month-by-month or pay a $100 lump sum for a year. If I pay the lump sum, I can get those damned Amazon and PayPal things off the site and never have to bother with those again.
Phoenix Raven

An alert reader sends in an email with a link to a story regarding our nascent elite unit, the Phoenix Ravens.
Up Yours, Fidel

Buried at the bottom of this article about Dover reservists heading down to Gitmo is this little gem:
Under the first lease, the United States agreed to pay Cuba 2,000 gold coins a year, now valued at $4,085. Washington continues to pay that amount every year. Castro’s government refuses to cash the checks.
News Update

Well, some great folks have contributed enough money to secure a domain name. I've submitted "sgtstryker.com" (hopefully that's not trademarked) and am awaiting a response. Thanks again to those who've pitched in their hard earned cash for this thing. I can't thank you enough. Now, if the domain name goes through, I can start working the hosting front. As I said before, Cornerhost has a $10/month price plan that suits me just fine and I'm thinking about going with them. I'll keep filling you in as events warrant.
Chomsky Effect

John Cole decided to perform an experiment and came to some not-so-surprising conclusions. Check it out.
Reader Mail

Someone sent in this information in response to the Stripes article I quoted earlier regarding mail sent to personnel overseas:
The key is unknown sources. The American Red Cross will forward mail onto "Any Servicemember". Take the letter or letters to your local ARC office and they will do the rest. In the last 2 months, in just one local office in a mid-sized city we spent $4,000 in postage sending mail oversees. So some mail, mainly care packages are getting through, although I am unclear about if any is reaching Afghanistan. Check it out for yourself.
So there seems to be something going in spite of the Stripes article I quoted. I've looked around and so far I've found a USO link that says this:
The Department of Defense has announced an alternative to the "Any Servicemember" and "Operation Dear Abby" programs, which were suspended indefinitely in the wake of anthrax mail attacks.

The Navy has developed a Web-based alternative to benefit members of all Services. The program can be reached at the Navy LIFELines Services Network at http://www.LIFELines2000.org or http://AnyServiceMember.Navy.mil
There's more information in the rest of the article. I've also found a DefenseLink statement on the new policy dated Oct 30, 2001
The initiatives, made necessary by a moratorium on mail addressed to "Any Servicemember," provide alternatives to traditional letter-writing campaigns. DoD suggests that Americans support the troops by instead supporting the communities in which they live... A number of private organizations are developing Web-based methods for Americans to show support. While donations of food and gifts for delivery overseas can no longer be accepted, interested Americans might contribute instead to military relief societies. For more information see http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Sep2001/n09172001_200109173.html.

All of these initiatives are in response to the suspension of the "Any Servicemember" mail program for operations in Bosnia and Kosovo. Military postal officials will not be implementing a similar program for Operation Enduring Freedom. Operation Dear Abby, a morale booster for servicemembers overseas for more than 17 years, will also be suspended. DoD officials are working on alternatives to that program as well.
I haven't been able to find any updates on the policy since then. It would seem clear by these official statements, corroborated somewhat by the Stripes piece, that packages and letters sent to "Any Servicemember" will not be processed by the MPS, yet the email from this fellow would seem to suggest that the Red Cross is indepedently delivering packages/letters to the folks overseas. If anyone else has any information or further insight into this, let me know.





Wednesday, January 09, 2002

Brutal Winters

American troops are facing a brutal winter in Europe.

Kosovo:
The Kosovo sky opened up last month and dumped a record 60 inches of snow across the landscape, decreasing ethnic violence while increasing the number of fender-benders and ice-related accidents.
Germany:
Troops in some parts of Germany also have been contending with unusually large snowfalls. On Dec. 29, 4.6 inches of snow blanketed Ramstein. Although December and early January’s temperatures didn’t set any records in Germany, it was colder than it had been for at least 15 years, Bundenthal said.
Turkey:
Last Friday, a snowstorm hit Izmir, where about 400 active-duty American troops serve either at the 425th Air Base Squadron support base, or at a NATO subregional command. Most people’s duty days were abbreviated to 3 p.m., said 1st Lt. Cris L’Esperance, 425th ABS public affairs officer. Turkish residents and longtime American expatriates say that the snowstorm was the first here since the late 1980s, and the first measurable snowfall in memory.
England:
The weather flight of the 100th Operations Support Squadron at RAF Mildenhall reports that winter so far has been marginally colder and a bit drier than normal. What precipitation there was came in a slightly greater amount of snow than normal.
Italy:
The biggest event of the season so far, though, was a Dec. 13 snowfall. More than 3 inches fell on Aviano, causing chaos on the roads and shutting down the runway for a day, a rare occurrence at Aviano. Snow came later in the day to Vicenza, but fell to the ground in about the same amount.
That's not counting the snowstorm that hit the southern U.S. last week. Here's the ten day forecast for our people in Kabul.










Offensive to Whom?

The Washington Redskins better start looking for a new nickname, some utterly impotent council body said today.
the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments passed a resolution requesting that the football team drop its name and find one less offensive to Native Americans.
Questions: Has anyone ever asked American Indians if the name is offensive? Or is this busybody group just assuming that the name is offensive? Other than the Yahoo's who occasionally protest, has there ever been a scientific poll conducted on the reservations of this country to determine if the word "Redskin" is offensive?

The only offensive thing about the Redskins is their atrocious play.
Damn Shame

During times of war, Americans like to send letters to troops overseas to show their support and to pick up the spirits of the guys over there. When you're in an isolated environment, doing the same monotonous work day after day, getting mail is a big deal. The tradition has been to write a letter and address it "Any Servicemember" with maybe a Unit Address and mail it off. Most Americans and schoolchildren think their letters are making it to our people over there. They're not:
Despite reports to the contrary, military APOs are still not accepting mail for "any servicemember."

"Mail will not be accepted from unknown sources," Erlanger said. "The most critical issue is the safety of our personnel. The recipient needs to know who [a package] is from.
The Stripes has been publishing letters from children in it's Letters to the Editor Section, but it's still a damn shame.

Plane Crash

A KC-130 carrying Marines and other personnel crashed into a mountain in Pakistan today. There's no indication of it being brought down by hostile action.
Central Command, which is responsible for U.S. military operations in Pakistan and the surrounding region, said the four-engine KC-130 Hercules crashed as it was making its landing approach at a base in Shamsi in southwestern Pakistan.
Sweet Merciful Jesus

An A-Team (sans Mr. T) managed to kill 1300 Taliban. Good god.
"A good controller can sequence planes and munitions to accomplish what you want," said Kevin.

"You bomb one side of a hill and push them in one direction, then bomb the next hill over and push guys the other way. Then, when they're all bunched up, you bring in more planes and drop right on them. Eventually they learn, but then you start doing something else."
Knowing these guys, "Kevin" probably described that action the same way he would if he were explaining how to change your oil. The best quote of the entire piece:
"Our mission is not necessarily to outfight the enemy," he said. "We would rather out-think them."
And that, my friends, is why we win. We have the technology. We're better, faster, stronger, but all of that means shit if you don't have a good, solid nuerological package sitting between your ears. All this talk of having the most educated enlisted force in history ain't just blowin' sunshine up your ass, sweetheart.

Backpedal any more, and you'll be in the Potomac

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs along with an anonymous "senior Defense" official are now saying that the ambush which resulted in the death of Sgt. 1st Class Nathan Chapman was in fact not an ambush, or at least they don't have all the facts yet. Compare these two statements, each made hours apart:
"It most definitely was an ambush," Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem said, "which would tell us that this was something that was anticipated and, therefore, in some regard, must have been set up."

Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, "I'm going to avoid characterizing that situation with those kinds of words. I mean, we just don't know yet. That's why I said we need to complete the investigation and determine the best we can what happened."
So, which is it? You've got a Rear Admiral saying "definitely" and a General saying "don't know". One of them is a politician (I'll let you figure out which). My gut tells me that this sudden reversal is a political thing. I figure Special Forces teams file after-action reports like everyone else, and I'm sure they've been debriefed by now along with anyone else who had any sort of involvement in this operation. Some things do move slowly through the military (like my orders that I was supposed to receive two months ago. Still waiting. Thanks MilMod.), but these sort of things don't. After a week, I'm sure they have a pretty good idea of what happened, which is why I'm inclined to go with the Rear Admiral's assessment rather than the CJCS. After the Admiral made his statement, you could see the beginnings of serious speculation starting in the press, and then CJCS comes out with a pre-emptive statement to try and nip that in the bud. This maneuvering has raised all sorts of flags with me, so I'll be keeping an eye on this story to see what develops.

Tuesday, January 08, 2002

Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Saudi all in one

If you have the Acrobat plug-in, you can download Issue nine of the Defense Monitor. It has articles exploring the mujaheddin in Bosnia (who were told to leave but never did), stabilizing Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabia trying to play Dr. Frankenstein (it's Frahnk-in-steen) but failing miserably to control the monster they've created.
Dry?

The Chicago Tribune says Tora Bora Mountain Search Turns Up Dry, but we captured 2 senior Al-Queda Officials along with their computers and equipment during the search.
Blogger Woes

Alright folks, I'm going to reverse a decision I made when I started this thing. I've put one of those Amazon things over there on the side for donations to cover the expense of domain name registration and web hosting. I've resisted doing this because I couldn't escape the feeling that I was basically asking for a handout for doing something that required no more expense than my time, but with Blogger acting funky more and more, I've decided to look elsewhere for a solution. I've looked around, and can get a domain name registered for about $30, plus Cornerhost has a $10/month plan that suits my basic needs. That adds up to about $130 or so not counting any hidden costs, and that's basically all I'm looking for.

I really did not want to do this, but I'm not sure how much longer Blogger will be able to sustain itself, and I would like to keep on doing this. It's been fun, I've conversed with scores of smart and funny people whom I would've never met in real life, and I've learned alot in the process, but the problem is I just don't have enough free cash floating around to put toward a new website. All funds donated will go directly to the set-up and maintenance of the future website. You can be sure of that.

As far as software goes, I'm looking into both Moveable Type and Greymatter as possible solutions, but any suggestions that you have will be greatly appreciated.
Mrs. Hutchinson: Close Down this Base!

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says we don't need to close down any more bases, contrary to what all our military analysts and leaders say. She cites the current war as a reason why, but the real reasons are a bit more pragmatic. She's a Senator from Texas, which has a lot of military bases within it's borders, most of which the military says it doesn't need anymore.
Rats

Some disturbing speculation concerning the Green Beret who was killed a few days ago in Afghanistan. Some are wondering whether the ambush that resulted in the Green Beret's death was an act of betrayal by our "allies".
"It most definitely was an ambush," Rear Adm. John Stufflebeem said, "which would tell us that this was something that was anticipated and, therefore, in some regard, must have been set up."

Minutes before the ambush, Chapman and several comrades had met with local leaders in the Paktia province, near the towns of Khost and Gardez.
And that's not the only news of betrayal by our supposed allies. Some are saying that locals are misleading Americans when it comes to bombing targets, and are just using American airpower to settle local fueds and wipe out their opponents. Now, one can say fair is fair, because that's basically what we did to bring down the Taliban, but we're the ones who'll take all the grief if stories of "massive civilian deaths due to U.S. bombing" continue. I'm sure that we have checks in place to prevent this sort of thing in the first place, but shit does happen and I hope they're constantly re-evaluating who our friends really are over there.

Sunday, January 06, 2002

UAV's for Homeland Defense?

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles may be a popular tool in our war in Afghanistan, but you can't fly them in American airspace yet. One of the questions is whether UAV operators should be considered pilots, and if so, do they require FAA certification? If the question is answered in the affirmative, I wonder how long will it be until certain people start demanding that UAV flying be the exclusive domain of the officer corps, if its not already. I wonder what is it about flying what is in essence a radio controlled aircraft that is so technical that it must be done by officers?(Historical note: The Army Air Corps used to have enlisted pilots, many of whom distinguished themselves during the war.)

Also on the UAV front, the manufacturers of the Predator and Global Hawk are getting ready to clash as General Atomics introduces its new Predator-B, which may be seen as a competitor to Global Hawk.
Guns for Schools

Japan will help aid the reconstruction of the Aghan infrastructure, if Afghans start turning in their weapons.
Convincing the armed leaders to give up their weapons could prove difficult.

Japanese officials hope to offer tribal leaders and government officials a financial incentive. Tanaka said 2 billion yen would come from the 12 billion yen allocated in the budget for the conflict in Afghanistan and subsequent peace building.

The proposal would assign a numerical goal for construction agreements. For instance, 200 rifles would need to be turned in for the Japanese government to fund the construction of one school. It is not clear how many weapons could be expected in the arms-swap deal.
The Japanese have also tried this strategy elsewhere in the world. It looks like a pretty good idea on the face of it. In a situation like Afghanistan, there won't be a "magic bullet" that'll erase all the country's ills all at once. A good plan should be to try a variety of methods and see which ones work the best. Sometimes, throwing a bunch of shit at the wall and seeing what sticks works.

Speaking of aid, alot of international aid groups don't like the idea of the military horning in on their territory. It takes alot of bribes to secure neutrality, and by god they won't have any johnny-come-lately operation coming in and screwing it all up. They want the military to provide security for aid shipments, which works out for them because now they can save all sorts of money by not having to pay off the authorities.

If you ask me, the military should charge for any security and road improvements it provides for aid groups. It'd be a nice secondary source of income.

Meanwhile, back at the batshit looney cave...

Robert "Baby, Hit Me One More Time" Fisk is still in sackcloth and ashes somewhere in Afghanland, he has a headache this big, and it's got Afghanistan written all over it.
Anti-American demonstrations in Pakistan had collapsed – we'll forget my little brush with some real Afghans there a couple of weeks ago.
Well, we can't forget it because you keep bringing it up. Christ, you'd think you had your own Road to Damascus experience, but instead of being struck blind, you were just struck. Repeatedly.
So it needed Vincent, breathing like a steam engine as he always does when he's angry, to point to the papers in Gemma's, my favourite Dublin newsagents. "What in Christ's sake is going on, Bob?'' he asked. "Have you seen the headlines of all this shite?'' and he pulled Newsweek from the shelf. The headline: After The Evil.
Ah, sweet Vincent. How could I forget those warm, summer nights in Marina Del ray with sweet, sweet, Vincent. When all the world was black, sweet Vincent would take me in his strong arms and whisper sweet reassurances in my ear while we watched the ceaseless pounding of the waves upon the shore. Pounding, crashing, pounding the beach with the roar of an ancient angry god. Oh how I've ached all these weeks for your strong, soothing presence. Hold me, Vince. Please tell me everything's gonna be alright. Let it be like Marina Del Ray again...

Ah, but Vince will have none of that shit- "Holy Shit, Bob, we're losing the PR war! Here, let me beat you in the head with this AK-47. Any epiphanies yet? THWACK! How about now? THWACK! Dammit Bob, you know you do your best thinking when just a heartbeat away from death! THWACK!"
The "peace" force thinks it will have to defend humanitarian aid convoys from robbers and dissident Taliban. In fact, it will have to fight off the Northern Alliance mafia and drug-growers and warlords, as well as the vicious guerrillas sent out to strike them by bin Laden's survivors. If nothing else, the Taliban made the roads and villages of Afghanistan safe for Afghans and foreigners alike. Now, you can scarcely drive from Kabul to Jalalabad.
Yep, it's the famous "They made the trains run on time" excuse that fascist apologists employ. You know, Fisk reminds me of the father-in-law character in National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. There's the one part where Clark, after taking all this time stringing up the lights and suffering numerous failures finally manages to get them lit up, and the whole family is there staring in awe. Clark goes around to the various family members who offer him congratulations until he gets to his father-in-law.

"The little lights aren't twinkling, Clark."
"I know Art, and thanks for noticing."
Presumably, the CIA will let us pay the Alliance mobsters for their war in Afghanistan. One of the untold stories of this conflict is the huge amount of money handed out to militia leaders to persuade them to fight for the US. When Taliban members changed sides for an Alliance payment of $250,000 and then attacked their benefactors, we all dwelt on their treachery. None of us asked how the Alliance – which didn't have enough money to pay for bullets a few weeks earlier – could throw a quarter of a million bucks at the Taliban in the middle of a fire site. Nor how the Pashtun tribal leaders of Kandahar province are now riding around in brand-new four-wheel drives with thousands of dollars to hand out to their gunmen. I wasn't surprised to read that a Somali warlord is now offering his cash-for-hire services to the US for the next round of the War on Civilisation.
I wasn't surprised to read the Robert Fisk is a self-important PR man for bin-laden. Dammit, the man was beaten for Christ's sake! This means something. He's stumbled onto the caper of the century! Robert Fisk, Ace Detective has uncovered a nefarious scheme by the U.S. government to pay people to fight! Whatever shall we do? Ah well, back to the pouting:
Fortunately for us, the civilian victims of America's B52s will remain unknown in their newly dug graves. Even before the war ended, around 3,700 of them – not counting Mullah Omar's and bin Laden's gunmen – had been ripped to pieces in our War for Civilisation. A few scattered signs of discontent – the crowd that assaulted me two weeks ago, for example, outraged at the killing of their families – can be quickly erased from the record.
In case you missed it folks, Robert Fisk was assaulted on the Road to Nowhere. You might have easily overlooked this fact because of his modest nature.
It is obviously perverse to note that I haven't met a single ordinary Muslim or, indeed many westerners – Pakistani, Afghan, Arab, British, French, American – who actually believe all this guff.
You know that phrase, "Unless you've been living in a cave, you've probably already heard about....", well, say hello to the proverbial Man in the Cave. Ole' Punchy obviously doesn't get out much and is probably surrounded by his retinue consisting of exactly one each Pakistani, Afghan, Arab, British, French, and American. This bold proclamation of his probably had its genesis in some hotel room in Cairo during one of those deeply profound conversations that drunk people are known to have from time to time.

"Dudes, can you believe this shit?"
"Naw, man. Check it out! All the beer bottle labels are stuck on the window!"
"Dude!"
"Sweet!"
I Know this Guy

Col. Bender (one of the C-32 pilots) got a write-up in his hometown newspaper.
Adapting and Overcoming

It may be hard to believe, but the military is always analyzing its actions. A lot of time and energy is spent looking for deficiencies, searching for areas of improvement, and learning lessons from both success and failure. In his paper, Airpower versus a Fielded Army: A Construct for Air Operations in the Twenty-First Century, Lt Col Phil M. Haun (USAF) offers an analysis of the Kosovo air campaign, and identifies a need for improvement in identifying and attacking fielded units of the enemy on the ground. Though dated 6 Dec. 2001, the Colonel was obviously researching and writing this paper well before the current conflict in Afghanistan, and the whole thing reads like a lesson plan for operations in Afghanistan. Here he mentions the advantages and drawbacks of UAV's during their use in Kosovo:
Even when JSTARS could see vehicles moving around Kosovo, it still could not distinguish a tank from a tractor pulling a trailer loaded with refugees. Eventually, JSTARS crews did develop tactics in an attempt to overcome this deficiency and, on occasion, were able to correlate vehicle-identification data supplied by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to provide real-time targeting information to FACAs [Forward Air Controllers]. For example, the Predator UAV could identify targets through its real-time video output. Yet, UAV’s also experienced efficiency limitations during Allied Force, due mostly to the lack of integration with operational forces. UAV’s had never been integrated into the air tasking order with strike packages, and the lack of training between UAV’s and FACAs made tasks such as altitude deconfliction and target talk-ons difficult. Even so, the ability of UAV’s to locate and identify Serbian forces was a much-needed capability, and operational techniques were patched together as quickly as possible. In the end, UAV-FACA employment techniques were still in their infancy as Allied Force drew to a close, and they had yet to produce a significant number of target engagements.
The following statement is downright prescient, given the friendly fire incident during the prison riot near Mazar-i-Sharif. The Colonel is talking about being able to strike tanks, but the principle remains the same:
Terminal-attack controllers must first be able to develop and maintain situational awareness in order to orchestrate successful attacks. This means surviving within the battle space in order to observe and maneuver to identify not only targets but also threats and the potential for collateral damage. Second, controllers must have onboard target-identification capability. Third, they must be trained in attacking fielded forces, which entails recognizing enemy armor and understanding how to direct strikers onto targets. Controllers must also be familiar with strikers’ capabilities and limitations as well as tactics. In short, controllers are key tacticians who determine what targets will be attacked and how.

Terminal air controllers have responsibility for final identification and prioritization of targets, but the striker delivers the firepower. In determining the suitability of a striker, one must consider three critical characteristics: the aircrew’s training, the platform, and the munitions available. During Vietnam, the entire Air Force fighter community was well versed in CAS procedures. With the introduction of the A-10 in the late 1970s, however, CAS became the specialty of one airframe, while the remainder of the fighter force gravitated towards interdiction, strategic attack, and air-superiority missions. Today, most fighter aircrews no longer receive training in CAS. Although, by definition, attacking fielded forces without the presence of friendly ground troops is not CAS, the fundamental skills remain the same. These skills include an understanding of terminology and coordination procedures, target marking and talk-on procedures, restrictions, and final control procedures. Aircrews performing striker missions must also have proficiency in weapons delivery. Only direct hits kill armor, particularly armor that is dug in or on the move. The potential for collateral damage may further restrict attack headings or delivery options, making successful attack more difficult.


As you can see, our top thinkers and analysts are still poring over every aspect of the Kosovo air campaign and are producing some amazing insight into deficiencies in tactics and equipment as well as highlighting areas for improvement. As you can also see, I have a very dull nightlife.



Asian Air Bases

This article in Air Force magazine offers an excellent analysis of the AF's need to build bases in Central Asia so our fighters can strike anywhere in the region and the problems it faces in doing so. 90% of the strike missions over Afghanistan were carried out by Naval aircraft coming off of carriers. The other 10% consisted of BUFF's and B-1's staging out of Diego Garcia, and a few bombing runs by B-2's flying all the way from Whiteman AFB in Missouri. No AF fighters were involved in the attack due to the range involved; a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by the JCS as evidenced by the new base going into operation in Kyrgyzstan.
Just Don't Call Them "Stunt Pilots"

Want to know when the Thunderbirds will be flying over your house? Click here to find out. The Blue Angels 2002 schedule can be found here.
Rationing

So, you think rationing went out with WWII? Nope, people stationed in South Korea have been using ration cards since the war ended to make purchases at the Commissary and all AAFES stores.
Ration control is needed because the Korean government allows commissary and exchange items into the country duty-free. Ration control helps keep those goods off the local economy.

Wentz said spending limits depend on family size. Current limits are $450 per month for a one-person family, $700 for two, $900 for three, $1,050 for four, $1,150 for five, and $1,450 for six or more.
The effectiveness of the rationing program is debatable, but it hasn't been for lack of trying on the military's part.
When the command began issuing plastic cards, all commissary purchases of $2 or more were anviled, the cards were signed and shoppers had to present their grocery bags to military police at exits.

The MPs compared the items in the bags to the receipts to ensure nobody was leaving with more than he or she was supposed to.
Just like Sam's Club! Reading this has made me wonder about all those Letters to the Editor that used to fill up the page with people's stories of blatant and rampant black market activity going on in Korea. You'd have people staking out the Shoppette or Commissary and keeping track of who went in and what they came out with. They employed all sorts of wierd methods to discern who was legit. There was even a LT who wrote a letter describing his experience in trying to stop a hardened black marketer (an old lady with an extra bag of rice) by jumping on the hood of her car to prevent her from leaving. The lady just sped off, throwing the poor LT clear in the process. I know the Army encourages its leaders to be audacious and brave, but I don't think that's quite what they had in mind. Towards the end of my tour in Japan, the Black Market Stakeout Squad apprently moved en masse to Okinawa, because the same damned letters started cropping up from down there.


Convoy!

The Army's got a new truck.
The M915A3 truck tractor is a Freightliner-made, Detroit diesel-powered, six-speed Allison electronic transmission-driven monster-hauler capable of pulling around 3 tons of whatever the Army wants to pile on, said Capt. Chris Andrews, a Mannheim-based 28th Transportation Battalion maintenance officer.

The new truck has more power and can haul bigger loads than trucks previously used by the Army, and does it with better support systems for drivers and maintainers, Andrews said.

"It’s completely automated," he said. "We even have computer software to diagnose problems."
The best new feature of the truck? Air conditioning! Yeah, baby, yeah! Oh, and it has a teflon-lubricated fifth wheel so they don't have to grease them up anymore.

Caves of the Damned

U.S. Forces have finished searching 7 of 8 cave complexes in the Tora Bora region. Gen. Franks had this to say about what they've found so far:
"What we have found, as we have gotten into these complexes, is evidence of considerable loss of life,"