25 June 2007

People who say stuff better than I can

I hate Staff Duty. I really hate staff duty on Saturday nights. Drunken Joes. . .

Anyway, here's my collection of people who make points better than I can after 5 hours of sleep.

On IEDs and how to prevent them: Red State.

A lot of people who are otherwise in favor of winning the war in Iraq are all outraged at the methods the Army is using to win the war. Am I speaking of horrific tortures inflicted on innocent civilians? Of course not--I am speaking of the policy of co-opting tribal groups and working through them to get insurgents to change sides. Badger Six has a couple good points on this.

The way I see it is this: The government, culture, society, political institutions, whatever you wish to point at, in Iraq are all less than ideal. However, societal transformation is a slow process which requires a reasonable security environment in order to take effect. Furthermore, as Leftists love to point out, it is difficult to re-engineer a society from the outside. What those of us on the outside of a society can do is create an environment where ordinary Iraqis can take charge of their own destiny and build something more constructive and creative than they have ever had. After all, the Republic of Korea was hardly a Jeffersonian democracy in 1950. What would have happened had the US demanded that before we stopped the North Korean invasion, the ROK had to fully transition to an ideal society, perfect in every way? Similarly, El Salvador 's FMLN (Marxist terrorist group) was the darling of the Left in the 1980s because of the supposed repressive nature of the Salvadoran government. Granted it was basically a junta of colonels, but whatever. The point is that once the security situation changed, it became safe for the Salvadorans to transition to a far freer and more democratic polity than was possible when the nation was in a fight to survive being turned into Nicaragua: Part Two.

If you get the insurgents to put down their guns or turn them on the incorrigible elements (al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, Iranian Quds Force, etc) then you create the necessary precondition for societal reform, which is a sense of security.

The other part of the strategy being used right now is best commented on by Bill Roggio. If you wondered what we needed 30,000 troops for in Iraq that would actually do some good, he's got a damn fine answer. The events in Diyala and Babil have the potential to cripple AQI and other insurgent groups or force them into parts of the country where they simply can't survive because they have no support networks.

On Democrats in Congress: I'm less concerned about the insult offered by Ms. Pelosi's staffers than be the fact that apparently, national-level policy is being influenced by a woman so out of touch with reality that she hires staffers who are this stupid.

Finally, on the United States Marine Corps and the bonds formed in a war zone: Military Motivator.

19 June 2007

Things You Ought To Read

1) On the subject of Salman Rushdie, who was knighted by the Brits.

Eteraz basically is of the opinion that by obsessing over him, the Muslim world is giving him power he should not have. I agree--but note that rationality is not and never has been a big part of the Muslim worldview.

2) On fathers, fatherhood, and the role of the older male in society vis a vis the younger male,

Grim has some useful things to say.

So does Dad29.

3) On Iraq, CENTCOM's press releases are fascinating reads. I love how folks try to tell me they don't see any progress in Iraq, but can't be bothered to check the information for themselves, preferring to rely on the pre-digested and heavily anti-US crap spewed by the MSM.

18 June 2007

On Palestine, Trent Lott.

On Palestine:


The Belmont Club.

My opinion:

The Palestinians are savages. They are incapable of self-government because their entire culture is diseased. If the Palestinians ever achieve anything of value, it will be because the terrorist organizations that the Arab dictatorships set up and the World accepted as their "spokesmen" and "leaders" are finally crushed. Personally, I hope that the Palestinians continue to burn, blow up, shoot, and hurl each other off buildings until there is nothing left.

The savages wanted a country of their own, let them do with it as they will, and the only thing the world should care about doing is blowing the crap out of any weapons they have capable of targeting Israeli civilians.

Israel was universally berated as "genocidal" and "racist" and "Imperialist" for occupying the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Among the more "progressive" crowd, the reality shone through--that for many in the West, the mere existence of a Jewish nation was so offensive that the only acceptable course for the Jews would have been to meekly submit to another Holocaust at Arab hands.

If this is what Palestinian self-government looks like, I say let the Israelis keep whatever part of the West Bank they want through whatever means they desire, and throw a fence around the rest so that the Palestinian people, in accordance with their apparent wishes, can degenerate into Stone Age savages beating each other with the femurs of their own dead.

On Trent Lott.

I wonder what his "solution" to the "problem" of Free Speech is? Frankly, I can't think of a good one myself. I find it hysterical that the Left strongly supports "First Amendment rights" when
it is a liberal mainstream media releasing classified intelligence information or time-sensitive military information that could lead to Americans getting killed, but when Rush Limbaugh makes some jokes about Hillary Clinton, that is beyond the line and he should be silenced.

On Iraq:

America's North Shore Journal has some of the briefing slides from General Odierno's briefing of 31 May. Note the disparity in casualties between our side and theirs. Note the results listed. These are confirmed, stepped-on bad guys who have gone to the Great IED Cell In The Pit.

Meanwhile in Ramadi, the 6th Marines have a unit blog. This is pretty cool. Note the links to Acute Politics, which is a fella in the unit who is kinda of vague on which unit he's in, unlike Badger Six--though Badger Six is not linked to from the 6th Marines. :)

Best MOUT Training Exercise. Ever.

14 June 2007

Fourteen June, 1775

232 years of kicking ass.

And counting.

Happy Birthday us!

Buy a Soldier a beer somewhere--and not me, I'm driving to Dallas tonight.

For those who are in locations where beer is verboten, try the Army's Beverage of Choice When We Are Sober.

Check out our history.

Read about our birth.

Learn about our heros.

And do something you couldn't do if you lived in a crappy third world dictatorship without the protection of the United States Army. Write your Congressman. Worship the way you choose (or choose not to, if that's your preference). Something.

10 June 2007

Candidates for the blogroll, and Haditha, again

Blog Them Out of the Stone Age

I have to love any blog with the phrase 'military history' in the subtitle.

Outside the Wire

Former Marine, with a documentary film about Iraq under his belt.

The Military Motivator

Read through his archives. He's only got 26 up total.

Badgers Forward

Company commander of an Army Reserve Engineer unit currently deployed to Ramadi and covering the route clearance mission. I have met some of his Soldiers, they were deployed there before I left.

Jake's Life

Lower Enlisted Marine, currently deployed.

Foreign and Domestic

Minnesota National Guard, Iraq vet.

Democracy Project

Politics, and politics I mostly like. The pointed me to this story, below:

The beginning of the end of the Haditha railroad.

When the Article 32 hearing ends with a recommendation not to prosecute, that's generally the end of the line. These Marines have been unjustly tried in the court of the Mass Media and betrayed repeatedly by statements from politicians like Jack Murtha demanding harsh punishment without bothering with the formality of trial. I've always found it ironic that if a gangbanger with a rap sheet as long as my arm shoots a cop, the media and politicians (in fear of an expression of ethnic solidarity-- say, the entire neighborhood getting together to burn down a Church's Chicken joint on their own block) trip over themselves to reassure the voters that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. When Soldiers or Marines are accused of war crimes not in keeping with their records of honorable service, then of course they are definitely guilty and we should accept the statements of the insurgents who ran away fast enough to survive the incident as the gospel truth.

Without Comment

09 June 2007

No Rants

I have not been inspired lately to compose long diatribes on Things Political and Military.

Partly, that is a lack of time. Between work and home life, there just never seems to be enough time to cover any topic in depth. Besides which, for a lot of things there are folks out there doing better.

For instance, if I wanted to talk about the War on Terror as waged in the Philippines, I would have to do a lot of research and whatnot, or I could just link to The Belmont Club, and snicker about how, outside of the media spotlight, it is simplest just to hand big bundles of cash to informants in order to make life difficult for terrorists. Terrorists who don't enjoy solid support from the populace they operate in (via tribal links, religious links, and/or ideological solidarity) are just like any other form of common thug, easily crushable once you devote the resources to it.

And those links are breakable.

That's why we are winning in Iraq--and today's definition of winning is "handing over larger chunks of Iraq to Iraqis to run as they see fit." Terrorists with a nilhistic outlook and no viable agenda for the future (and for most Iraqis, the Islamic State of Iraq is NOT rpt NOT viable) can be isolated. Of course, that's not what the Mainstream Media tells you. I filled out a survey on blog usage, and a lot of questions were about why I read blogs. How can you read stuff like this from people who are on the ground kicking ass and not prefer it to the pre-digested ideologically correct drivel the New York Times puts out?

Well, excuse me for a moment. Intellectual Honesty time. The New York Times does occasionally put out some half-way decent info. Sort of. And once in a while, someone in their opinion page does say something intelligent. This essay speaks of Vietnam and Iraq in a cogent manner, and points out that,

"Today, in Iraq, there should be no illusion that defeat would come at an acceptable price. George Orwell wrote that the quickest way of ending a war is to lose it. But anyone who thinks an American defeat in Iraq will bring a merciful end to this conflict is deluded. Defeat would produce an explosion of euphoria among all the forces of Islamist extremism, throwing the entire Middle East into even greater upheaval. The likely human and strategic costs are appalling to contemplate. Perhaps that is why so much of the current debate seeks to ignore these consequences."

I have said, time and again, that I would support an end to US involvement in Iraq if there was a plan that did not have appalling human and strategic costs.

No one has come up with one yet.

Minorly amusing trivia:

Sophia has a bit up about her male offspring standing on stuff. It's hysterical, and the first picture she has of her youngster with a hand on his hip is as perfectly stereotypical of "male standing on something" that one would think it staged if one didn't know better. Having spent a lot of time with young males with free time and cameras, I can attest that standing on stuff is a frequent pose. Trucks, dozers, tracks, whatever. Occasionally Mr. Hajji, but we don't put those pictures on the internet.

There's a new Korean tank in development, which looks like a maintenance nightmare--I've driven a vehicle with a hydraulic suspension and it sucks. But it looks cool.

Finally, because SOMEONE had to do it eventually, I located for your viewing amusement, the only Vlad Tepes macro I've ever seen.

Counterinsurgency has come a long way, baby!

07 June 2007

First on Omaha

The 299th Engineer Battalion is gone.

The colors are cased, the citations gathering dust somewhere.

The men have moved on--out of the Army or on to other duty assignments.

But for decades, the battalion sounded off with 'First on Omaha' in memory of those hours 63 years ago.

The 299th Engineer Combat Battalion (as it was then known) was formed in April of 1943. Soon after formation, it began training at a naval installation in amphibious warfare techniques. Upon staging in England, the Battalion received instruction on underwater demolitions as well as training blowing apart obstacles based on aerial photography of the beaches in Normandy. The unit was divided into boat teams, with fillers from other units to bring them up to strength. The commander was 'bigoted', or briefed with the details of the Operation Overlord.

On 1 June, the teams moved into the embarkation areas and loaded on the ships. The invasion was scheduled for 5 June, but was pushed back 24 hours due to weather.

At 0300, the men were awakened. Two hours later, they began loading the LCMs.

At 0633, 06 June 1944, eight assault teams of the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion landed on Omaha Beach (Easy Red, Fox Green, Fox Red) with the mission of clearing eight 50-yard gaps in the underwater obstacles.

The 299th Engineer Combat Battalion was the only Engineer unit to land on both beaches D-Day. Companies A and C and Headquarters and Service Company on Omaha and Company B on Utah Beach. Some of our men actually landed before any other American troops had set foot on the beach.

By 0715, 5 of the 8 assigned gaps has been cleared, even though two of the assault elements got lost and were not located until 0900. While the Engineers fulfilled their mission, the infantry were pinned down until 1000 before they began moving inland. The 299th continued to clear the beaches continuously until 2300 on the 9th of June, under heavy enemy mortar and artillery fire as well as the occasional air attack.

The Presidential Unit Citation for the action read:

"The 299th Engineer Combat Battalion, as part of a special engineer demolition task force, was attached to the 1st U. S. Infantry Division for the assault, with the mission of c1earing the beach obstacles within the tidal range of the beach from vicinity of Vierville-sur-Mer to Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France. The battalion was organized into eight assault demolition teams, four support demolition teams, and a command. Each demolition team was landed in an I.C.M. at 0633, 6 June 1944, and was equipped with a ton of explosives and accessories, all of which were hand-carried. Due to the rising tide it was necessary to execute the demolition of the outer (seaward) obstacles within 30 minutes after landing. The battalion was equipped with tank dozers, sixty per cent of which did not reach the beach, in operating condition. The demolition teams worked from 0633 to approximate1y 1330 under extremely heavy enemy fire (both artillery and small-arms), and continued to work under intermittent artillery and small-arms fire until approximately 1600, 7 June 1944. The operation was further complicated because the infantry and other troops were within the danger radius of obstacle demolition. The battalion worked with little food or rest until 9 June 1944, suffering approximately thirty-three percent casualties. It was necessary, in at least four instances, for teams to interrupt their work and, attack enemy sniper positions in the hills. The mission of the battalion was completed under extremely difficult and hazardous conditions, which required extraordinary heroism and determination on the part of each individual. The esprit de corps of the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion exhibited in this action is worthy of the highest praise."

02 June 2007

Blogging Backlog

First, h/t to Gateway Pundit and others. There are few photos which can sum up the war in Iraq better than this one.

Apparently a suicide bomb had just been detonated.

Where else in this world are you going to hide?

Even the occasional Englishman recognizes precisely what that uniform--and the nation that issues it to us--is good for.

It's even far better to be detained by our least professional dirtbag (not linking to pictures of Skanky Ho and her Boyfriend from the West Virginia Reserve unit or the nekkid man-pyramids), than it is to be picked up by our opposition. Just ask the 42 folks--including a 14 year old boy--who were 'detained' by al-Qaeda for as long as four months before being freed by our guys. For those looking for more details (parental discretion advised if you have small children in the room) you can check out the manual on interrogations our opposition uses.

Probably aren't going to see that one in the New York Times, but then again they can't be trusted to accurately report their own poll results either. h/t Dadmanly.

Other stories you won't see in the New York Times are those about how the United States Army and our Marine counterparts have adapted to the modern three-block war in Baghdad and the rest of Iraq. In this war, a cell phone can be the most powerful weapon at a commander's disposal. The leftist-controlled media, the people who want you to think we are losing the war, won't run stories like this. Just like they won't write about Iraqi people taking up arms to throw al-Qaeda out of their villages and neighborhoods. We see this, and some of us are getting pissed. Some of us have been pissed for a while, but that's fine too. It's interesting that the 'big boys' of the media are no longer interested in embedding to get these stories, preferring to sip mixed drinks in the hotel lounge reading emails from "stringers" and sending back footage of whatever exploded in Baghdad that day instead of doing, you know, actual journalism. Of course, the reason is that the home office isn't interested anymore either, because embeds not only get a story that doesn't fit the script but they also start seeing US Soldiers as real people, not the paper cutouts that we get portrayed as in the MSM.

At least my least favorite made-for-TV pseudo-celebrity has dramatically called it quits. Hopefully she'll stay home for a while and get some real help from a mental health professional instead of blowing every Democratic politician she can find, then being shocked when people don't take as more than another cheap whore. (That's a metaphor, y'all. I don't mean that literally)

Meanwhile, Islam continues its parade of insanities around the world, a particularly jarring (for this adult convert to Orthodoxy) example occurring in Maylasia, where a woman who has been a Catholic for nearly a decade has been denied permission to change her identity documents to reflect that conversion. You see, she wants to marry a Catholic man. Can't have that.

In the Presidential Race news, Mrs. Clinton announced she is going to give up all the privileges she enjoys that the average American doesn't. I think. Oh, wait. I'm sorry, when she says that she wants 'the great American tradition of opportunity for all and special privileges for none.' She doesn't actually mean that. What she means is that she wants to dip further into your wallet. She's important enough to keep her privileges. Oh, and it's funny how private property has become, in liberal-speak, a privilege--unless you are a rich liberal. It's only the middle class that get soaked by their tax hikes. Gray Wolf asks, as do I, precisely how much of Mrs. Clinton's $50 million net worth is going to be redistributed my way.

This story is one that is pretty crazy, but I hope it's true, because that would be evidence of far greater common sense than the Administration usually displays. It's not a solution (right now the leading idea in the Long-Term Solution column is to let the Israelis nuke Iran flat) but it might buy time.

Top Ten Stupid Criminal Tricks: Breaking into the home of a combat vet. We're twitchy, we sleep lightly, and more than a few of us own guns. Oh yeah, and once you kill someone it is a lot easier to kill again when you are in a situation where it is justified. Bad idea, stupid! But what blows my mind is the reaction of the stupid kid's father.

“We have choices, and those we hang with have choices,” he said. “It’s sad that tragedy has to strike in such a way for our youth to see that running around and hanging out with the hip people doesn’t amount to anything.”

WTF? Personal responsibility for the choices we make? It speaks a great deal to the moral courage of father that he can look past his emotional response to make a well-reasoned statement of this kind. I salute him. And I hope that the shooting does serve as a lesson to the kids at the school who were so deeply affected.

Speaking of shootings, but this one far more cheerful, an 11-year old kid whacked a giant hog with a .50 caliber handgun. I'm impressed. I'm amazed. I'm still firmly resolved never to buy a .50 caliber handgun because frankly, hunting anything that can't shoot back doesn't get my adrenaline flowing like hunting Hajjis does, and besides if I'm going after anything more than, say, 500 lbs, I'm using a damn rifle like my ancestors did, thank you very much. Note for the record I'm not saying HE shouldn't hunt giant pigs with a giant handgun, just saying I'm unlikely to any time soon.

On the other hand, I'd love to get at the hams off of that thing.

In the 'too surreal to be believed' a female minister gets a sex change and become a male minister. I thought this was just goofy Protestant hi-jinks, until I got halfway down the article.

I'm far less disturbed by the Methodists ordaining a transsexual than I am by the fact that the Methodists ordained someone who could say this:

"My transition to live fully as the male I know myself to be is very personal and deeply spiritual. As a Christian, I worship God – I AM. People frequently asked Jesus, 'Who are you?' His response was, 'Who do you say I am?' 'Who do YOU say YOU are?' I believe that our spiritual path is, in great part, the answer to: Who am I? I am..."

I give two shits what physical gender you are, if you seriously compare yourself to Jesus Christ in this way and even say, "I AM" in that context, you're engaging in blasphemy and self-deification and I would not want you in a leadership position of any kind what so ever.

Even less seriously, we have an article on the ideal Greek Coffee that my wife drew my attention to. I have a serious jonesing for proper Greek coffee (yeah, I know, it's about the same thing as Turkish coffee, but I hang with too many Greeks to call it that. Good way to get stabbed.) but my brikis are in my household goods, not yet arrived from Germany. Or at least, I hope my brikis are in my HHGs. I haven't actually seen them since before Iraq. I would be deeply unhappy if I had to replace them. They are just little two-cup brikis (and that's espresso-sized cups) but still. . . I don't anticipate a need for a larger one unless I host gatherings of Greek folks, and this article explains why.

Let me end as all things should end, with discussion of the End of All Things, to wit, death and death's relation to politics and community. There's a fascinating article on First Things on the subject of death. Grab a cup of coffee and read it. Then put your thoughts in my comment section. I am of mixed opinions about the article, though the basic premise appeals to my beliefs and worldview. I particularly approve of this passage:

Without the communion of the dead, the heroism of martial self-sacrifice is irretrievably stained with slaughter: either to be denounced for its inherent blood-letting (to the dangerous loss of any concept of just war, honor, and glory) or, even more frighteningly, to be extolled for its spilling of enemy blood.