26 December 2007

New Year's Resolutions...

Oh boy.

Here we go.

I am a firm believer in the "do over". Endless hours on the playgrounds of my youth taught me the value of a second chance. Missed the basket? No problem, call a "do over". Didn't get the grade you wanted? Call a "do over". Well, that last action is not as simple as I represent. However, we do live in a time of almost endless do overs. We can bounce back from almost any failure. Sometimes all that is required is a simple act of forgiveness. A mulligan on the golf course is easy enough to obtain, unless money is at stake. In short, almost anything can be subject to a "do over". If you apply yourself, you can recreate your self a thousand times over. Just ask Madonna, or Cynthia McKinney or Al Gore. Even perpetual harpy Pat Buchanan has performed the feat.

New year's is the time for everyone to look for their do over. Sometimes it's about how we look, or act or what we weigh or eat. We face the prospect of the year with the idea that a fresh slate has been created for us to claim our "do over". I have gone so far as to think of every day as a potential "do over". But rather than thinking about what we would do over again, shouldn't we be thinking about what we would do better now? If we recognize the past as complete, subject only to interpretation and immutable, then we can look ahead for opportunities. This seems a healthier option than bemoaning what we do or don't have.

I would like to start 2008 with a thought towards what can I improve. How can I learn? I have two proto-citizens who are really starting to accelerate in their own learning and growth. I find myself starting to jog just to keep up. Soon, I will need a New Years every month to maintain pace with them. I guess I could simply let them leap ahead. I suspect each of us has a comfortable spot where we like to live. It's pleasant, the fridge is always full, the remote close by and the slippers extra cozy.

It's possible to simply stop. The pace of the planet has never seemed faster. The flow of information and options nearly torrential as it cascades over our existence. Standing still or out of the stream is pleasant, for a while. But that spot soon becomes very lonely. It's up to each of us to look at every night as a New Year's eve. Our chance to recreate and renew happens all the time.

There is always room for a "do over".

17 December 2007

Science is losing the media war...

In the conflict over extremist ideology, the United States is still behind the power curve when it comes to matching information and propaganda. This is not a good thing as any struggle is almost always won or lost first in the minds of the contenders. The same battle is being fought in the political arena, with claim and counter-claim being launched in all avenues of the media world. Regrettably, the greatest battle is being fought in the realm of scientific education and information.
A recent survey, for example, conducted by the University of Toronto identified the number of YouTube videos on vaccination and immunization and categorized them as to their perceived slant. Disappointingly, the overwhelming view was negative. This on a topic of science which has proven its efficacy and safety to the human species for nearly a century.

Like the perpetual pleas for money from Nigeria and bogus internet virus alerts, anti-science luddites continue to dominate the media war with half-truths, cherry picked data and emotionally charged claims. Science, a methodical process can not keep up. And so the slight defense of "full disclosure" falls to a handful of dedicated scientists, journalists and skeptics who doggedly point out logical flaws, falsehoods and other inconsistencies in the scaremongers tactics. And for their efforts, they are labeled "obstructionists" and worse.

The problem is compounded by a public mistrust of authority - blossoming in the 1960s. And a desire for solutions to really challenging problems. We are a hopeful animal and will stake our tents in any camp which promises answers to questions which keep us up at night, even if those answers are wrong.

NOTE - The short article is here
UPDATE - Why is this important you ask? In our post-modern anything goes, relatavist world shouldn't alternate (even minority) views be considered? The answer simply is no. It is all well and good to consider and debate fringe ideas, but to act on them is foolhardy in the extreme. Sen. Diane Feinstein, from the uber-nanny state of California, proposes to ban a set of key chemicals essential to the manufacture of plastics. Why, you may ask? Because of a misplaced fear of possible harm which is unsupported by science! This possible national legislation will have far reaching and unintended consequences from toy makers to dialysis patients.
Holy crap - do some research!

14 December 2007


Remember this? Howard Dean riding high and then collapsing in a primal scream of goofiness. I can only hope the same holds true for the weight losing, Mike Huckabee.

The presidential race is certainly heating up. MSNBC, also known as Major Source of News for Backroom Communists, is predicting a wild turnover of events in the primaries. I am not surprised. With the duration of the campaign season, it is inevitable that cracks would appear in the heir apparent's armor. Personally, I am excited. Politics has seemed to come alive again in the American spirit and a more civil discourse of issues appears to be taking place.

Let me offer a few of my own plans for election day in 2008. As the selection of potential candidates is essentially out of my hands, I will present a simple IF-THEN approach to voting.

Fair warning, I am a registered republican. In college I worked on George H. W. Bush's campaign. I was a registered libertarian for a period in the mid to late 1990s, but never voted the party ticket. I abandoned them after better understanding their overly "hands off" approach to too many critical issues.

1) I see no third party candidate of any interest. The fact that multiple parties still offer up candidates. However, the winnowing of candidates into two parties is efficient and effective. I am of the strong opinion that all politics is local.

2) If Mike Huckabee secures the GOP nomination or VP slot – I will vote against him, even for Hillary Clinton or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad .

3) Barack Obama, for all his naïve nature is VERY electable.

In general I am optimistic. Our foreign policy has not converted the world into a firestorm of US hatred – anymore than it was prior to September 11, 2001. The real challenges remain as global security and human freedom, the economy and managing growth (thus its impact on the environment).

Healthcare, in my opinion is a red herring. This goes for immigration as well. Both require detailed solutions to some of the programmatic and fiscal aspects, but from a policy perspective – no major change is truly warranted.

11 December 2007

Holy retrospective...

Well it’s here. The baby boomer generation is indulging in its favorite pastime of navel gazing. The New York Times advertising section reports that advertisers are now increasingly tying their products to some whimsical representation of the 1960s. There is hardly anything wrong with categorizing any period as the good old days. As humans, we have a unique ability to emphasize any aspect of an experience over another.

Let’s just recapture the essence of the sixties. Political assassination was routine, even in the United States was common. Our armed forces were a last vestige of institutionalized slavery due to conscription. Many cities were reeling from racial violence and wide spread abandonment by middle class citizens. The threat of actual, all-out nuclear war was nearly made real with the Cuban missile crisis. The environment was NOT a top consideration of any mainstream party.

Some good aspects. The space race meant something. Civil rights were evolving for the good. Government control over the economy was waning. But the sixties were marked by chaos. The unpredictable result of decades of social unrest and overturning of the old order. There are a thousand different ways this period could have transpired. It could have happened with less violence, less pain and more insight.

But it didn’t. It happened the way it happened due to the actions and reactions of humanity. We will likely look back on this first decade of the 21st century and make similar comparisons. I think I would vote for Obama if only to move the nation away from the false memory of the 1960s.

I was born in the middle of that decade. My memories are locked squarely in the midst of the 1970s. Those days, naturally, seem magical to me. I was growing up and forming my worldview. The Soviets were bad. Hijackings didn’t end with plunges into cities. The economy was in tatters and we were retreating from our initial push into space.

There were no good old days.

The only good old day is now.

Do your part to make it the best one possible.

By the way, I know some folks who are – Capt Jack Harkness and Sonic Frog are boldly entrenched in making sure the youth of the planet have a touchstone of sanity in an otherwise anything goes society.

Rock on.

05 December 2007

A rose by any other name...

Citizen Prime raised an interesting issue about the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. She had read an editorial by Jonathan Tilove about the vitriol being used to attack Senator Clinton. The terms used in the article were related to misogyny, literally the hatred of women. The article goes further to describe the same tactic applied to other female figures.

Hillary garners special attention for several reasons. She is perhaps the most recognizable public figure on the planet. She is running for the most powerful position on the planet. She has a well known husband and a history for controversy. There is no doubt that she is a consummate politician. I have no doubt that she would be a capable president. I am VERY concerned about her approach to social programs, spending and taxation. I think her foreign policy would be practical and unspectacular – but I could be wrong. I would feel better about her if she had been governor of New York rather than senator. At this juncture in our history, there are NO senators who have the qualities required to be President.

So why the hate, players? The verbiage is particularly offensive – but not unusual. Our mixed culture of female empowerment / objectification has created a bizarre world of double, triple and quadruple standards. At present, one can find any number of sites denigrating the current administration (in the most personal fashion). Apparently there are a number of places where similar assaults are heaped upon Senator Clinton (and one would infer other candidates).

The predicament is that Senator Clinton is a woman and also someone’s mother. Does Condoleezza Rice receive similar attacks? A quick google will confirm that indeed she does. In fact, phrases reserved for the most uneducated and ignorant are heaped upon the present Secretary of State. Is there an additional level of horror reserved for the reaction to Hillary’s epithets due to her maternal status? Or is it because she represents the “progressive” side of politics? I have an unpleasant feeling it is the latter.

So let’s be honest. When sites like Democratic Underground, KOS, World Net Daily and other left and progressive site degrade and insult individuals (the ad hominem attack) – let us condemn them as strongly as we should Free Republic or similar sites on the opposite side of the spectrum. I have personally been kicked from off of each of the major left and right boards for "rationality".

No one, it seems, wants to talk about facts. Sad, really.

I deeply abhor the personal aspects of politics. I know that it has been around forever, but this behavior serves only to obscure reasoned discussion of issues and divide our nation further. A civil discourse, at least, allows one to see the humanity inherent in each individual. I would challenge those decrying the assaults on Hillary to equally decry the attacks on the other side of the aisle.

No one deserves to be insulted or degraded.

UPDATE - I just listened to Eric Idle's offering on XM Radio Comedy (entitled F*** the FCC) in which the normally humorous and erudite British citizen, refers to Secretary Rice as an "intellectual tart". This in addition to a series of unprintable (by me) expletives directed at any and all members of the present administration.

30 November 2007

Coming into the first turn...

It is the end of November and I haven’t posted on the blog. Since I am not receiving any threatening e-mails, then I will presume your November was as busy as mine. I have been poking around the blogosphere noting some issues. Of interest is the resent tragic death of Sean Taylor. His murder was well commented on by FOX Sports writer Jason Whitlock. The choice of view by this author may be incendiary, but they are certainly worth discussing!

On a more insubstantial note, I am starting to think about who I will support in the 2008 election. I have perused the web for some good comparison sites and I think this one fills the bill. They catalog all the top candidates and even have an internet dating style match quiz! Which cuddly candidate will you be spending time by the fire with in 2008?

I took the match quiz and ended up in bed with John McCain. Now I like McCain on defense and other “hard” issues. I don’t think he represents enough of a change this time as he did during the old Straight Talk Express days. So, despite my respect for him and his service in the Navy, I must set him aside.

Sam Brownback doesn’t stand a chance. And as a rule I am not a fan of senators running for president. After all, that’s hardly any qualification. Then I arrive at Tommy Thompson, a good candidate four years ago – now too much in the past. At last we have Guiliani. He was a good mayor, but presidential? That’s tough to say. I like his stand on choice but am concerned that his economic approach may be too light.

Here is the surprise – Bill Richardson! But he’s a democrat! And yet he represents one of the best overall candidates in the field. He is experienced, intelligent and has an opinion which reflects a lot of my views. Now if I could only get him to run with McCain or Romney – but alas, he is destined to be steamrolled by the Clinton / Obama battle.

Here is my prediction – Romney gets the republican nomination. He selects a southwestern running mate (McCain is unlikely). In the democratic camp, Hillary ultimately wins the nomination – picks Richardson as a VP. Then the slugfest begins.

Candidate Summary

George Allen (Former Virginia Senator): lost re-election; has PAC.
Mike Bloomberg (NYC Mayor): Undeclared; active draft movement; has campaign website. Re-registered as independent (instead of Republican) on June 19, 2007.
Sam Brownback (Kansas Senator): Announced.
Jeb Bush (Governor of Florida): Undeclared; denies any plans to run.
Bill Frist (Tennessee Senator): Withdrew Nov. 2006.
Newt Gingrich (former Speaker of the House): Undeclared; says he will decide in June 2007.
James Gilmore (former Governor of Virginia): Announced plans to file FEC papers.
Rudy Giuliani (former NYC Mayor): Has Exploratory Committee; filed FEC papers, Feb. 2007.
Chuck Hagel (Nebraska Senator): Undeclared; active draft movement; has PAC.
Alan Keyes (Radio talkshow host): announced candidacy, Sept. 2007.
Mike Huckabee (Governor of Arkansas): Has Exploratory Committee; announced candidacy, Jan. 2007; has PAC.
Duncan Hunter (California Representative): announced candidacy, Jan. 2007; filed FEC papers, Oct. 2006.
John McCain (Arizona Senator): Has Exploratory Committee.
George Pataki (New York Governor): Undeclared; has PAC.
Ron Paul (Texas Representative): Has Exploratory Committee.
Mitt Romney (Massachusetts Governor): Declared candidacy, Feb. 2007; has PAC.
Fred Thompson (former Tennessee Senator): Has active draft movement; has exporatory committee.
Tommy Thompson (former Wisconsin Governor and Secretary of HHS): Has Exploratory Committee.
Mark Sanford (South Carolina Governor): Has gubernatorial campaign committee; active draft movement.
Tom Tancredo (Colorado Representative): Has Exploratory Committee; has PAC; active draft movement.
Evan Bayh (IN Senator): Withdrew Dec. 2006; Has PAC; has Exploratory Committee.
Joe Biden (DE Senator): announced candidacy, Jan. 2007; has PAC.
Wes Clark (former NATO commander): Undeclared; has PAC.
Hillary Clinton (NY Senator): Has Exploratory Committee; has PAC; has Senate campaign committee.
Tom Daschle (Former SD Senator): Announced not running, Dec. 2006; has PAC.
Christopher Dodd (CT Senator): Announced Jan. 11; has Senate campaign committee.
John Edwards (former NC Senator): Announced Dec. 27; has PAC.
Russ Feingold (WI Senator): Withdrew Nov. 2006.
Al Gore (former V.P.): Undeclared; active draft movement.
Mike Gravel (former AK Senator): Declared candidacy in 2006.
John Kerry (MA Senator): Has PAC; withdrew, Jan. 2007.
Dennis Kucinich (OH Representative): Announced, Dec. 2006.
Barack Obama (IL Senator): Declared candidacy, Feb. 2007; has PAC.
Bill Richardson (NM Governor): Has Exploratory Committee; has Gubernatorial campaign committee.
Al Sharpton (Reverend): Declared he is considering another presidential run.
Tom Vilsack (IA Governor): Announced & filed FEC candidacy, Nov. 2006.
Mark Warner (VA Governor): Withdrew Oct. 2006.

2008 GOP Presidential candidates: (Click on a candidate below for their issue stances)

John Cox (Chair of Cook County GOP) Rudy Giuliani (former NYC Mayor) Mike Huckabee (AR Governor) Duncan Hunter (CA Representative) Alan Keyes (former UN Ambassador) John McCain (AZ Senator) Ron Paul (TX Representative) Mitt Romney (Former MA Governor) Fred Thompson (former TN Senator) Tom Tancredo (CO Representative)

2008 Democratic candidates: Joe Biden (DE Senator) Hillary Clinton (NY Senator) Christopher Dodd (CT Senator) John Edwards (former NC Senator) Al Gore (former V.P.) Mike Gravel (former AK Senator) Dennis Kucinich (OH Representative) Barack Obama (IL Senator) Bill Richardson (NM Governor)

Citizen Deux’s VoteMatch Results – McCain!!! Oh no!!!
Scores & Analysis
More Information
Click on 'Social' and 'Economic' for analysis of your answers compared to each candidate's answers.
Click on 'Answers' and 'Stances' for complete details of the sources of each candidate's answers.

Total 80%
Social 69%
Economic 88%

John McCainRepublican Sr Senator (AZ); 2000 Primary Candidate for President
Biographical Profile John McCain's answers John McCain's stances

Total 60%
Social 63%
Economic 58%

Sam BrownbackRepublican Sr Senator (KS)
Biographical Profile Sam Brownback's answers Sam Brownback's stances

Total 60%
Social 56%
Economic 63%

Tommy ThompsonFormer Secretary of H.H.S.; former Republican Governor (WI)
Biographical Profile Tommy Thompson's answers Tommy Thompson's stances

Total 58%
Social 63%
Economic 54%

Rudy GiulianiFormer Mayor of New York City; Republican Candidate for 2000 Senate (NY)
Biographical Profile Rudy Giuliani's answers Rudy Giuliani's stances

Total 55%
Social 63%
Economic 50%

Bill RichardsonDemocratic NM Governor
Biographical Profile Bill Richardson's answers Bill Richardson's stances

Total 53%
Social 38%
Economic 63%

Duncan HunterRepublican Representative (CA-52)
Biographical Profile Duncan Hunter's answers Duncan Hunter's stances

Total 50%
Social 44%
Economic 54%

Jim GilmoreFormer Republican VA Governor
Biographical Profile Jim Gilmore's answers Jim Gilmore's stances

Total 48%
Social 25%
Economic 63%

Tom TancredoRepublican Representative (CO-6)
Biographical Profile Tom Tancredo's answers Tom Tancredo's stances

Total 48%
Social 56%
Economic 42%

Mike HuckabeeRepublican AR Governor
Biographical Profile Mike Huckabee's answers Mike Huckabee's stances

Total 43%
Social 50%
Economic 38%

Mitt RomneyRetiring Republican MA Governor
Biographical Profile Mitt Romney's answers Mitt Romney's stances

Total 35%
Social 50%
Economic 25%

John Edwards2004 Nominee for Vice President; Former NC Senator
Biographical Profile John Edwards's answers John Edwards's stances

Total 35%
Social 63%
Economic 17%

Barack ObamaDemocratic Jr Senator (IL); previously State Senator
Biographical Profile Barack Obama's answers Barack Obama's stances

Total 33%
Social 44%
Economic 25%

Hillary ClintonDemocratic Jr Senator (NY); former First Lady
Biographical Profile Hillary Clinton's answers Hillary Clinton's stances

Total 33%
Social 38%
Economic 29%

Mike GravelFormer Senator (AK)
Biographical Profile Mike Gravel's answers Mike Gravel's stances

Total 30%
Social 19%
Economic 38%

Ron PaulRepublican Representative (TX-14); Libertarian nominee for President in 1988
Biographical Profile Ron Paul's answers Ron Paul's stances

Total 28%
Social 44%
Economic 17%

Joe BidenDemocratic Sr Senator (DE)
Biographical Profile Joe Biden's answers Joe Biden's stances

Total 25%
Social 25%
Economic 25%

Chris DoddDemocratic Sr Senator (CT)
Biographical Profile Chris Dodd's answers Chris Dodd's stances

Total 20%
Social 25%
Economic 17%

Dennis KucinichDemocratic Representative (OH-10)
Biographical Profile Dennis Kucinich's answers Dennis Kucinich's stances

Click on 'Social' and 'Economic' for analysis of your answers compared to each candidate's answers. Click on 'Answers' and 'Stances' for complete details of the sources of each candidate's answers.

12 November 2007

So others need not...

It's Veteran's Day, well, it is the federally sanctioned observence. Yesterday was the actual event. I attended church with Citizen Prime. I was surprised, and a little humbled, to have the pastor ask for the veterans to stand and be recognized. There were about 200 people in attendance. Judging by the respective ages of those standing, I would place the number of current service members in attendance at less than 3.

My grandfather served in the war to end all wars, and then was promptly shipped overseas to serve in the sequel to that bloody conflict. My own father served as an artillery officer in the Korean War. That conflict, to this day, continues - as no peace treaty was ever signed.

I joined the service twice. I signed up as a NROTC scholarship recipient. I was unable to see that through as a college student, fortuitiously ti would prove later. I signed up again in 1997 as a direct commission officer in a Navy program. It was a time when everything looked very different from today. The discussion was to the necessity of large scale military spending. The hardest job was serving in the Balkans (we are still there). Reservists were struggling to serve in value added roles and contribute to their active commands.

Obviously, things have changed. I have always maintained that one of the primary reasons I serve is so that the two proto-citizens will not have to make that choice. I can not help but think that my father and grandfather thought the same things.

We are at a strange crossroads in our society. We live in a world where we can truly insulate ourselves from the misery and danger of the non-civilized world to a large degree. Aside from countries actively embroiled in war (Israel) the remainder of the developed world can operate without fear. And yet the balance is a fine one. The Balkans, previously mentioned, existed as a civilized state under the aegis of the Yugoslavian government. Once that veneer was torn away, centuries of ethnic hatred boiled over into Europe's worst war in half a century.

So, as I sit here in Atlanta airport, I reflect upon the young Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who trek unnoticed between flights in this massive transportation center. At the security gate I watched a young, female private kiss her daughter good bye. I don't know where she was bound, but she carried the sadness of her separation cradled inside a hope that she served so that her daughter would not have to make that choice.

Sister, I know the feeling.

10 November 2007

Happy Birthday USMC...

On this date in 1775, in a tavern, the United States Marine Corps was born. Since that time, they have served our nation unfailingly. Semper Fidelis I raise a toast to you, Mud Shark - and to all Marines, past, present, and future.

04 November 2007

Vegas baby...

Citizen Prime and I are sitting in 24/b at the Palms in Las Vegas. It is a surprise trip to help celebrate a good friend's 40th birthday. I am not a fan of Vegas. I don't gamble, but I do love the desert. We took a sidetrip to Hoover Dam. It is perhaps one of the most potent renants of the WPA projects. During that period whole families took incredible risks in search of work and hope. How little we remember those sacrifices.

01 November 2007

If you can't build it...

The Navy, like a most of the military, is keen to be efficient. Whether it is in the prosecution of a mission or the acquisition of a weapons system. I am pleased to see the cancellation of LCS 4. I am NOT a fan of the littoral ship program. I think there are conventional systems already available which will more than meet the need of the Navy in this regard. Specifically, these systems are currently called "helicopters". They can operate with little regard to sea state, can remain on station for sufficient periods of time and have the capability to avoid pesky hazards like mines.

The Coast Guard uses helicopters to great effect in the littorals. The Navy needs to look at their model and adopt the same. We could quickly deploy air assets against a small waterborne threat and actually interdict them, vice trying to move (even at 50 kts) a 1000ton vessel.

Navy Terminates Littoral Combat Ship (LCS 4) Contract
Thu, 1 Nov 2007 10:31:00 -0500

November 01, 2007

Navy Terminates Littoral Combat Ship (LCS 4) Contract

Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced today that the Department of the Navy is terminating construction of the fourth littoral combat ship (LCS 4) for convenience under the termination clause of the contract because the Navy and General Dynamics could not reach agreement on the terms of a modified contract.

The Navy had not yet authorized construction on LCS 4, following a series of cost overruns on LCS 2. The Navy intended to begin construction of LCS 4 if the Navy and General Dynamics could agree on the terms for a fixed-price incentive agreement. The Navy worked closely with General Dynamics to try to restructure the agreement for LCS 4 to more equitably balance cost and risk, but could not come to terms and conditions that were acceptable to both parties.

The Navy remains committed to the LCS program. "LCS continues to be a critical warfighting requirement for our Navy to maintain dominance in the littorals and strategic choke points around the world," said Winter. "While this is a difficult decision, we recognize that active oversight and strict cost controls in the early years are necessary to ensuring we can deliver these ships to the fleet over the long term."

"I am absolutely committed to the Littoral Combat Ship," said Roughead. "We need this ship. It is very important that our acquisition efforts produce the right littoral combat ship capability to the fleet at the right cost."

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30 October 2007

Just some filler...

I've been traveling a LOT this past few weeks. Apologies to the request from Maggie for not responding to her request for help. Jogging around the globe is interesting, but the more I do it, the more I realize just how similar we all are.

If you read notes from bloggers in Baltimore, Britain, Brazil, Bahrain or Bangledesh - there are general similarities (I don't meant the political extremist cases). Folks want to improve their lot in lofe, have more time for family and hobbyist pursuits and are generally inquisitive. I've been following some interesting debates over at Badscience.net. Ben Goldacre is a UK professor with a good hand on the pulse of the fringe and ill-informed.

For now ciao.

19 October 2007

More love from Iran...

Great, our friend Ahmagonnajihad is shuttling high end AA missiles into Iraq.  These are not organic weapons.  They are far more sophisticated than the homemade surface-to-surface rockets of Hamas in Lebanon.  They usually come from a nation-sponsor (Iran, North Korea, China, Russia, etc.).  We supplied a number of these weapons to the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan to be employed against the Soviets.  However, several groups have perfected alternate tactics.  The Tamil Tigers, the most sophisticated and dangerous terrorist group in the world, has perfected pummeling LZ (landing zones) with mortars as aircraft are landing or taking off.  
Why, one may ask, would you want to shoot down helicopters?  Simple, you are an opposition force with no interest in the success of the nation in which you are deployed.  Operating these systems is not simple, they require specific training and support.  Modern anti-air weapons have sensitive electronics which must be maintained and calibrated.  Our Al-Q enemies are undoubtedly being supported by Iranian Revolutionary Guards with secondary support from China.  

Air Cav Crews See Higher-Tech Attacks, Weapons from Iran
Fri, 19 Oct 2007 13:18:00 -0500

American Forces Press Service

Air Cav Crews See Higher-Tech Attacks, Weapons from Iran

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 19, 2007 - Air cavalry helicopter pilots have had to change their tactics to adapt to newer and higher-tech surface-to-air missile systems that officials believe are coming in from Iran, a senior official in Iraq said today.

Crews from 1st Air Cavalry Brigade out of Camp Taji, Iraq, have flown support for operations in and around Baghdad for more than a year. Since their arrival, there has been an increase in the sophistication of attacks and types of weapons, Army Col. Daniel J. Shanahan said in a conference call with military analysts.

"In the last several months, we have had an increased threat from systems that we had not seen in the first part of the year," Shanahan said. Some of them originated in "places like Iran," he said, causing considerable change in tactics, techniques and procedures.

"It's a real concern, and it's something that we're dealing with," he said. "Right now we've got the best systems in the world, and we've got technology behind us."

Shanahan said additional sensors and diffusers, which decrease an aircraft's infrared signature, have been added, and crews' flying tactics have changed.

Shanahan's crews have logged 80,000 hours of flight time in the past 13 months, he said. The helicopters spend about 10 hours in the air for every one on the ground, Shanahan estimated. But even though the enemy's weapons systems are more advanced than before, overall attacks on aircraft are down in the area, he said.

Crews are fired upon about 200 times monthly, he said. Attacks are from weapons types ranging from small arms to rockets known in military parlance as "man-portable air-defense systems," or MANPADs, which are shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles that typically use infrared guidance.

MANPADs make up only about 5 percent of the attacks, "but if you ask the pilots, they would say that MANPADS is the biggest threat," Shanahan said.

It takes about 3,000 troops to fly, fuel, arm and maintain the H-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters operating around the clock at the base. The aircraft are used for attack reconnaissance, air assault, air transport and medical evacuation missions.

In addition, crews partner with Iraqi air force units for training and some missions. The Iraqi air force has progressed sufficiently that it routinely provides reconnaissance missions, patrolling pipelines, power lines and other infrastructure. It also provides in-country transportation for Iraqi government officials.

Iraqi air force pilots fly three types of helicopters: Mi-17s and Bell JetRangers in training programs and UH-1 Hueys mounted with defensive systems, which are workhorses for reconnaissance and transport, Shanahan said. This frees his crews from these types of missions and is a critical step toward the Iraqi government assuming its own security mission, he said.

Related Articles:
1st Air Cav Shifts Tactics, Enables Iraqis to Complete Mission

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Pelosi is a moron...

I usually avoid ad hominem attacks in blogs, especially headlines. However, recent action by the speaker of the House of Representatives (HoR) - sounds like more - is foolish on its face and malicious in its intent.

Turkey is a complex country literally straddling the old and new world. It sits in a geographically strategic position and exhibits what an Islamic state with a secular government could become. It has been a valuable ally for many years. And aside from a few ethniphobic incidents (Greeks, Kurds, Armenians) generally presents a hopeful path for other countries.

Turkey is not an Arabic state. It arose from the ashes of World War I as the former seat of the Ottoman empire. It enjoyed existence as a state for many years and was not created out of whole cloth as many of the other Middle Eastern states were. No nation like Iran existed prior to 1906.

Pelosi decided that cirticizing Turkey for its legacy participation in atrocities against Armenians would be a good thing. This is surprising, as the United States Congress is still unwilling to act decisively in Darfur, Myanmar or other regions where present day genocides are occurring. Her, and congress', meddling in foreign affairs underscores the foolishness of having a legislative body directing foreign policy.

The Turkish government, naturally, is a little upset. This would be similar to a foreign nation condemning the United States for its part in the slave trade. A reality, but in historical context - foreign condemnation is useless. This little stunt by a do nothing, know nothing congress may serve to further imperil our operations in Iraq and by extension my brothers and sisters in arms.
No wonder congress' rating is approaching single digits.

16 October 2007

New Maritime Strategy...

As if you needed to know instantly! Actually, this should be pretty interesting. With Navy folks doing Army jobs, and Marines doing everyone's jobs and Coasties picking up everything else - it's a real mess out there. Truth be told, the blue water threat has receded a bit. The overemphasis on littorals has (I hope) burned itself out. The major concern is the future of US shipbuilding, in my opinion. We have lost too much talent and capability in our industrial sector. The Navy and Coast Guard need to coordinate efforts to adequately bridge the gap between law enforcement / military operations and MOOTW (Military Operations Other Than War). This includes things like the humanitarian assistance to South and Latin America. The Navy (and Military) is often doing things that the Department of State should be taking lead. If you want a real insight into the challenges facing the 21st century military, read Gen Sanchez's comments - the unedited version. I think he soundly indicts all the players in the current geopolitical sphere with regard to our present employment of forces. For a slightly more esoteric read, check out the present Foreign Relations magazine for a great article on strategy.

No. 112-07 October 16, 2007

New Maritime Strategy to be Presented

Navy Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, and Adm. Thad W. Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard, will present the new maritime strategy known as "A Cooperative Strategy for 21st CenturySeapower" at the International Seapower Symposium at the Naval War College on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 10:30 a.m. EDT.

The presentation will be carried live on the Pentagon Channel and streamed live on http://www.navy.mil beginning at 8:45 a.m. EDT. The strategy will be available for download on http://www.navy.mil/ at 9 a.m...

Media wishing to cover this event in person may contact the Naval War College public affairs office at (401) 841-2220 to arrange for access.

The following audio/video feed information is provided:

KU Digital

Spacecraft: AMC5 Location: 79 Degrees WL

Transponder: K08H CHB (9Mhz)

Vert / up: 14221.50

Horz / Down: 11921.50

Symbol Rate: 2893.6

FEC: 3/4

U.S. Department of Defense
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12 October 2007

It's not the Physics Prize...

Congratulations Al Gore! You may (did) have already won the Nobel Peace Prize! Your lovely little film, despite its atrocious inaccuracies, has elevated the discussion of a weighty scientific topic to religious fervor! This prize, I regret to inform you, will be shared by a legion of scientists who know where their bread is buttered. The members of the IPCC have graciously allowed the policy makers in the UN to sanitize their analysis and recommendations to fit within the present environmental world view.

Gore's film has been censured by the British high court as being unsuitable for educational purposes without substantial caveats and clarifications. The facts surrounding climate on the earth are complex and variable. Simplistic assumptions by anyone place the individual in the likely spot of being incorrect. I certainly believe there is a cyclic nature to climate on this planet. I am NOT convinced that the reasons for the present change (if any) are due to human generated circumstances.

Let's be clear, reducing the input of all emissions into the atmosphere is a good thing. Just as the Malthusians were wrong about apocalyptic consequences from population growth, the prospect for error among the anthropogenic sect exists. Science needs debate. It needs debate in which theories are challenged and validated in the most scrupulous manner. I believe that this is occurring in the scientific community, however, as our media attempts to report on this issue - they get it horribly wrong.

There are web sites in which anyone who challenges the origins of current climate conditions is labeled a "denier". This is an extremely inflammatory term in which individuals are lumped with the likes of Holocaust deniers. A denier is someone who, against overwhelming evidence and facts, refuses to accept some issue. There are deniers in South Africa who refuse to acknowledge the mechanisms by which HIV infections occur or convert into AIDS. There are deniers within Islam who refuse to acknowledge the rights of women as equal members of the human race. Individuals who question the theories and hypothesis of climate science are not deniers. They may be skeptics, of which I am one, but hardly deniers.

As Mr. Gore assumes the position as high priest of the current cult of climatology, be assured that the one sided emphasis in this debate will accelerate.

01 October 2007

And if they were yours...

The Economist , one of my favorite magazines, missed the boat recently. In an opinion piece in their periodical they decried the use of coercive means as an interrogation tool. This in itself is not objectionable, I personally wrestle with that piece of ethics. However, they went one step further.

The most common rhetorical argument in this debate is the one in which a terrorist has planted a device which will kill many innocents. The question is then what do you do? What means do you employ to extract the relevant information and then stop the event?

The Economist takes this argument to a ridiculous extension. Their position is as follows;

”Human rights are part of what it means to be civilised. Locking up suspected terrorists—and why not potential murderers, rapists and paedophiles, too?—before they commit crimes would probably make society safer. Dozens of plots may have been foiled and thousands of lives saved as a result of some of the unsavoury practices now being employed in the name of fighting terrorism. Dropping such practices in order to preserve freedom may cost many lives. So be it.”

If the restraint on law enforcement and government causes lives to be lost, so be it. What if it’s your life? Or the life of your family? This argument reflects a naïve grasp of the world as it is. Terrorists do not choose to engage society by its established rules. They see their role as expanding their view, influencing society unlawfully and with great violence.

Civil society is not even in the same stadium. A quick Google of “civil liberties” will reveal more than three million hits. Many are the big operators (ACLU, etc.) some seem big, but are really fronts for niche issues (in Mendocino county the Civil Liberties Monitoring Project works diligently to preserve the consumption of medical marijuana.) I am sure they would quickly stand up to defend the rights of dirty bomb carrying Islamofascist operative number seven, once their precious crop was in danger.

In the same article in which the Economist would allocate civilians to summary execution in order to preserve “civil liberties” they cite a litany, okay so it’s only a paragraph, of lost rights;

“The past six years have seen a steady erosion of civil liberties even in countries that regard themselves as liberty's champions. Arbitrary arrest, indefinite detention without trial, "rendition," suspension of habeas corpus, even torture -- who would have thought such things possible?”

And yet – where are these issues? Where is the long list of legal warriors funded by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the ACLU? In short – they do not exist. Or if they exist, they operate under the aegis of law. Once the cases of individuals in Guantanamo, for example, were reviewed, the courts concurred that detention was justified and legal.

If it were not for a vigilant video clerk in New Jersey, many soldiers and civilians at Fort Dix would be dead from terrorist bullets. Hardly a violation of rights.

What would you do?

16 September 2007

Travel blog...

Well, I am on the road again. I am off to a lovely Navy sponsored training course in my former town of residence. For those of you who weren't paying attention, we used to live in Norfolk, Virginia. The city is a perfect size. It is situated amongst sme of the most beautiful landscape imaginable. The town has grown, largely due to military consolidations, and boasts a good mix of rural and urban life. I think we truly miss it. We have a great number of friends there and felt really at home. Who knows, perhaps one day.

05 September 2007

Weak lately...

New of the world has been summarily uninspiring of late. I was briefly excited when I read about some physicists who may have shaken up the scientific world with a simultaneous transport of a particle. However, there has been no follow up and I can find no buzz in the press about it. Even searching Elsevier (the science web) has proven fruitless. It seems like the typical fall doldrums. School is starting and the usual crop of internet predator and date rape stories are sure to be popping up like crocuses in the media. The present credit crunch is being felt by some who bought homes overvalued or way over their price range (I love Dave Ramsey's quote - Act your wage!) and their less than scrupulous lenders.

The government's fiscal year is winding down and (as usual) there is a plethora of remaining funds for training, exercises and other activities that was poorly budgeted throughout the year. My own unit is preparing for its semi-annual weapons qualifications and I will be sojourning off for a week of training. The Proto-Citizens are now ensconced in their first full month of school (August is too early to start anything in Georgia) and Citizen Une and I are planning for a trip or two to see old friends.

Ah, the routine of autumn.

I hope, dear reader, that you will take some time to read and reflect on the state of affairs of our planet. May I suggest a few "non-net" titles;

1) Infidel - A stunning work of one woman's journey to understanding
2) Foreign Affairs - A collection of scholarly essays from all sides of the political spectrum
3) The Economist - Weekly news and analysis - the best balance and perspective available

Now this small selection will, hopefully, spawn some responses to the question, what do you read (non-net) that enables you to form your world view?

I would be interested to know.

29 August 2007

The best of people...

I get the rare privilege of meeting a lot of very interesting people. Some of these folks come to me through my service as a reserve officer in the Navy. The reserves are a much misunderstood aspect of our military. Since the end of the Cold War, the reserves have been remade into a part-time arm of the military. Routinely I have to juggle family life, civilian career and Navy duties in a single day (hour even!).

On occassion, we get the chance to do something we feel passionately about full-time. A fellow officer has been mobilized in support of our ongoing operations in the present conflict. He has built a great website, with stunning visuals and personal reflections.

He has a young family and may not have ever thought he would have to go back to active duty life. But he is and he is bearing that burden of duty with typical Navy grace and commitment.

Many others live in this strange dual world. Bridging the civilian and the military. Major John at Miserable Donuts is another member of this club. I think the members of the reserve components have a unique perspective on our way of life and the meaning of service. Unlike our opposite numbers in the civilian world (who have never served) or career military (who have never been a civilian), we experience the varied perspectives of each existence.

Those members who have retired or civilians who join, lose the advantage of simultaneous comparison. When immersed in one's own world it is very difficult to alter one's view. I can no more explain to my beloved spouse (adequately) my reasons for serving. Individuals who clamor for mandatory service also miss the point of service. Either they wish some "sharing of the burden" by some mysterious elite (either on the right or left) or wish to instill some nationalist pride they feel is lacking in the fabric of our society.

Everyone serves the nation in some way. No matter how small, their presence is important to our way of life.

It is the nature of service given by people like my friend, however, which permit all of us to be what we wish to be.

May Providence favor your journey and carry you safely home.

26 August 2007

How it is...

I like Gary Trudeau. I think his Doonesbury hits home in many ways. I rarely agree with his left of center views, but his observations are often a great source of insight and reflection for me. This Sunday's strip may be the most pertinent for me ever. The character of BD, surrounded by well meaning loved ones stands for all the service members of our all volunteer armed forces.

His statement of "most people are completely baffled why anyone would serve" is a concise summary of our present society's attitude. Ponder on this a bit.

Why we serve is a frequent headline for many internal armed forces publications. Most times the member only scratches the surface of this issue. Bill Whittle of ejecte!eject!eject! wrote a nice piece about this topic called Tribes.

Check it out.

PS - All my regular readers, both of you, congrats to Captain Jack for making the leap across the pond and taking on the challenge of a colonial educating the mother country's youth!

17 August 2007

Young People Should Find Ways to Serve, not Just at McDonalds...

Peter Pace, the ejected former CJCS, has an opinion about national service.  While I agree in principal, I think the prospect is at odds with the founding basis of our nation.  We must be a nation which freely gives.  Service should come from an inner desire, not an outward compulsion.  This topic seems to be a recurring theme in the blogosphere and in philosophical circles.  Where do our obligations as citizens begin and end?  What are we abrogating by not engaging within our society? 
Is the "service" rendered by a staunch anti-war activist any less important than that of a soldier in combat?  It would be easy for me to say that that person picketing safely at home is not doing their nation any service - and I would offer just that assessment when their tactics exceed the bounds of our society's laws.  But our nation is built upon freedom, tenets which I strongly support.  These allow individuals to make choices about how they will "serve" their nation.  If our nation, as a whole, decides not to protect their individual and sovereign rights, then we must live with our decision.
Every person must do an equation in their head.  What have I received and what shall I give?  To each their talents and measure for the same.  We live in an amazing time.  It is a rare period of civilization where self-sacrifice is not a requirement for survival in the industrialized world.  One can live quite comfortably on the margins of society (the slacker / working poor) lifestyle and not suffer appreciably (compared to prior centuries).  In short, we can "tune in and drop out" and not suffer any real consequences.

Young People Should Find Ways to Serve, Pace Says
Thu, 16 Aug 2007 14:34:00 -0500

American Forces Press Service

Young People Should Find Ways to Serve, Pace Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

YONGSAN, South Korea, Aug. 16, 2007 - Whether it's through military service or another means, young Americans should find some way to serve their country, the U.S. military's top officer said here today.

"I do believe that each of us who has had the blessing of the accident of birth of being born in a free country ought to find some way to repay our country," Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said during a town hall meeting at Collier Field House here.

"If we have a system that allowed people to join the Peace Corps or allowed people to do good work inside the United States where it's needed, or join the military," it would help the country.

Young people should give a year or two of their lives to making society better, and U.S. leaders should take such a commitment seriously, Pace said. "We would be a much stronger society, and we would be giving back to the world what we should be giving back," he said.

The general also put to rest rumors about a possible U.S. military draft. "Nobody in any leadership position is having any serious discussion about a draft," he said.

Gen. Peter Pace, USMC

Related Articles:
Pace Receives Korean Award, Thanks U.S. Servicemembers
All-Volunteer Force Meets Nation's Needs, Official Says

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