31 July 2010

Ralph Peters Has a Leaked Hair Up His Ass

Wow... I've seen Ralph Peters pissed off before, but not this much. An excerpt from the NY Post...

The forgotten victims are our troops on the ground. And the Afghans who've risked everything to help them.

If I hear one more senator from either party tell us that the WikiLeaks betrayal won't make a significant difference, I'm going to violate security to puke on the Capitol's steps.

No difference? These leaked documents are an immeasurably valuable gift to the Taliban and al Qaeda -- as well as to other enemies, present and potential.

An alert reader -- and the terrorists have plenty on the case -- can harvest vital information about our special operations, unit locations, logistics vulnerabilities, fire-support system, response times, medevac procedures, command-and-control weaknesses, intelligence deficiencies, physical security, weapons limitations, internal policy debates . . . and that's just the start.

American service members will die because of the WikiLeaks "service to humanity." And nobody in Washington seems to have noticed.

Afghans will die, too. A lot of them. In just a few hours of data-mining, Britain's The Times unearthed the names of hundreds of Afghans who've helped us. Information about their families and home villages is in there, too.

Think the Taliban will give a free pass to Afghans who've supported us? Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Afghan lives are newly at risk. It's a huge gift to the terrorists: Our collaborators will run for cover -- and recruiting informants will be immeasurably more difficult.

Thanks to WikiLeaks -- and the treasonous leaker himself -- our enemies will gain a more-detailed picture of how we operate than we'll ever have of them. There hasn't been a bigger war-time intelligence coup since ULTRA, when the Brits got their hands on the key Nazi encryption device in World War II.

By: Brant

Serbia and Kosovo: Round XLVIII or something like that

Serbia is actually on the right side of a new UN draft resolution on Kosovo.

Serbia's foreign minister says the UN resolution will stop other separatist movements from following Kosovo's example.

Serbia is seeking support for a UN resolution which it says will prevent separatist movements from following the example of Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia.

Last week the UN's highest court ruled that Kosovo's secession in 2009 did not violate international law.
Kosovo says the resolution - which says unilateral secession should not be a way of resolving territorial disputes - is "disastrous".

Serbia rejects Kosovo's independence.

Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday to discuss the draft resolution, which says unilateral secession should not be a way of resolving territorial disputes.

Sixty-nine countries - including the United States, the UK and a further 21 of the EU's 27 member states - have so far recognised the majority ethnic Albanian Kosovo as an independent state.

By: Brant

Another Hamasian Parked in Martyrland by Israelis

It'll be interesting to see how the Palestinian apologists spin the dead-by-Israeli-rocket weapons manufacturer of Hamas. When Hamas admits you're a weapons manufacturer, you know you had a hand in some nefarious schemes.

A senior Hamas member was killed during Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, Hamas security forces said Saturday.
An airstrike in central Gaza killed Saed Al Bitran, who was responsible for manufacturing weapons, the Hamas forces said.
The Israel Defense Forces said the attack on a weapons-manufacturing site in central Gaza was part of a series of strikes starting late Friday in response to a rocket assault on Ashkelon earlier in the day.
The strikes also targeted two other locations in Gaza: a Hamas 'terror-activity site' in the north and a weapons-smuggling tunnel in Rafah, Israeli forces said.

By: Brant

Weekend Humor: How Low Can You Go

The story of the lowly airman...

An Air Force cargo plane was preparing for departure from Thule Air Base in Greenland. They were waiting for the truck to arrive to pump out the aircraft's sewage holding tank.
The Aircraft Commander was in a hurry, the truck was late in arriving, and the Airman performing the job was extremely slow in getting the tank pumped out.
When the commander berated the Airman for his slowness and promised punishment, the Airman responded: "Sir, I have no stripes, it is 20 below zero, I'm stationed in Greenland, and I am pumping sewage out of airplanes. Just what are you going to do to punish me?"

By: Chuckles

Remains of Second World War US Airmen Found?

The wreckage of a downed B24 bomber recently discovered in the Adriatic Sea may contain the remains of US airmen MIA since 1944.
Gerald Landry, 73, spent the best part of three decades looking for the bomber pilot shot down by the Luftwaffe in December 1944.

Now, in a remarkable discovery, artefacts recovered from the bottom of the Adriatic Sea near Croatia could confirm the death of First Lt Russell Landry.

Lt Landry was part of an 800-strong force of Allied fighter pilots sent to bomb oil refineries in Blechhammer and Odertal, Germany.

However, Luftwaffe fighters supporting the German army at the Battle of the Bulge fended off the attack, shooting down 22 planes in just ten minutes.

One of the lead bombers, the Tulsamerican, was seriously damaged and crashed into the Adriatic while attempting to return to its Italian base.

Seven of the ten men on board were rescued by local fisherman and picked up by a British rescue ship. The three others were never seen again and the aircraft was lost.

That was until now. Dramatic pictures taken last month reveal the plane, covered in plant life, resting on the seabed where it has been for 66 years.

By: Shelldrake

Historical Photos Against Modern Backdrops

From the blog of Sergey Larenkov comes an awesome set of photographs that blend WWII era shots into modern photos in the same places/angles. Here are a few samples; go look at the rest. Wow.

h/t Wargamer.com

By: Brant

Navy Commissions USS Missouri

THe new USS Missouri has now joined the fleet.

The Navy’s newest attack submarine, Missouri, will be commissioned Saturday, July 31, 2010, during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony in Groton, Conn. Missouri is named to honor the people of the “Show Me State” and its leaders for their continuous support of the military.

Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will also deliver remarks. Becky Gates, wife of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, will serve as the ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition she will give the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

Designated SSN 780, the seventh Virginia class submarine, Missouri is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; battle group support; and mine warfare missions. Upon entering service, Missouri will directly enable five of the six Navy Maritime Strategy Core Capabilities: sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.

This is the fourth Navy ship to be named Missouri. The last USS Missouri, a legendary battleship, saw action in World War II, the Korean War, the Persian Gulf War, and was also the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and many other U.S. and allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II.

Cmdr. Timothy Rexrode of Spencer, W.Va., is the ship’s commanding officer and will lead a crew of approximately 134 officers and enlisted personnel. The 7,800-ton Missouri was built under a unique teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding. The boat is 377-feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths of greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. Missouri is designed with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing operational availability.

By: Brant

30 July 2010

Leaking Common Sense

and not having a paper towel to clean it up with, Assange lashes out at people with valid criticisms.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Friday that he was disappointed by criticism from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates over the release of about 76,000 pages of U.S. documents related to the war in Afghanistan.
Gates said Thursday that the massive leak will have significant impact on troops and allies, revealing techniques and procedures.
Assange rejected that assessment Friday, saying in a release that Gates 'has overseen the killings of thousands of children and adults' in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, also criticized Assange and the person who gave him the documents. WikiLeaks, Mullen said, was risking lives to make a political point.

So, while Assange isn't going to give up his source, it wouldn't hurt for him to show where they scrubbed identifying info on personnel, or ways & means, from the reports. They didn't. They've given away intel not only on what we know, but in some cases they've given away intel on how we know it. Does Assange account for his actions? Nope. He counterattacks. It doesn't mean his point about Gates might be valid or not. What it means is that it's irrelevant to the criticisms leveled by Gates and Mullen, and Assange fails to respond to the, instead choosing to obfuscate the point by making political gamey and spurious counterattacks.

Assange's statement Friday was harshly critical of Gates, particularly over deaths in Afghanistan.
"Secretary Gates could have used his time, as other nations have done, to announce a broad inquiry into these killings," the statement said. "He could have announced specific criminal investigations into the deaths we have exposed. He could have announced a panel to hear the heartfelt dissent of U.S. soldiers, who know this war from the ground. He could have apologized to the Afghani people.
"But he did none of these things. He decided to treat these issues and the countries affected by them with contempt. Instead of explaining how he would address these issues, he decided to announce how he would suppress them.
"This behavior is unacceptable. We will not be suppressed. We will continue to expose abuses by this administration and others."

Wow. I suppose when those abuses are the creation of some creative editing of camera footage, you can "expose" all sorts of things. One wonders if Assange is distantly related to Kelso from That '70s Show.

By: Brant

Norks, Nukes, No-goodniks: Unite!

Are the Norks trying to ship nukes to Myanmar?

The U.S. said it is carefully watching the budding secretive relationship between Myanmar and North Korea for signs of nuclear cooperation, as official talks between the authoritarian regimes entered a second day Friday.
North Korea's Foreign Minister Pak Ui Chun's four-day visit to Myanmar is shrouded in secrecy. Myanmar has not officially announced the visit is taking place, and few details have leaked out about the nature of the trip, which is Pak's first since the two countries resumed diplomatic ties in 2007.
Asked to comment on the visit, U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley urged Myanmar to adhere to U.N. sanctions on North Korea that include restrictions on arms transactions.
"North Korea is a serial proliferator. North Korea is engaged in significant illicit activity. Burma, like other countries around the world, has obligations, and we expect Burma to live up to those obligations," he told reporters Thursday in Washington. He said the lack of transparency surrounding their ties makes it difficult to assess if North Korea is indulging in nuclear proliferation with Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.
"It is something that is of concern to us, given North Korea's historical record. And it is something that we continue to watch very carefully," Crowley said.

By: Brant

Afghan War Casualties Picking Up

July has been the deadliest month so far for the US in the Afghan war

Three U.S. troops died in blasts in Afghanistan, bringing the death toll for July to at least 63 and surpassing the previous month's record as the deadliest for American forces in the nearly 9-year-old war.
The three died in two separate blasts in southern Afghanistan the day before, a NATO statement said Friday. It gave no nationalities, but U.S. officials said all three were Americans. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity pending notification of kin.
U.S. and NATO commanders had warned casualties would rise as the international military force ramps up the war against the Taliban, especially in their southern strongholds in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. President Barack Obama ordered 30,000 reinforcements to Afghanistan last December in a bid to turn back a resurgent Taliban.
British and Afghan troops launched a new offensive Friday in the Sayedebad area of Helmand to try to deny insurgents a base from which to launch attacks in Nad Ali and Marjah, the British military announced. Coalition and Afghan troops have sought to solidify control of Marjah after overrunning the poppy-farming community five months ago.

By: Brant

US Navy Takes Delivery of E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

The first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye has been delivered to the US Navy.
The Advanced Hawkeye is the newest version of the E-2 Hawkeye, an airborne early warning aircraft, which has served naval aviation for nearly 50 years.

Admiral Gary Roughead, Chief of Naval Operations, accepted the aircraft on behalf of the Navy from Gary Ervin, Corporate Vice President and President, Aerospace Systems Sector, Northrop Grumman Corporation.

Among the technological advances of the new plane are the ability to scan a larger area, detect smaller targets, process data on those targets faster and link that information into systems that provide improved situational awareness. The aircrews onboard the new Hawykeye also have improved all-glass cockpits and tactical operators stations.

"It's going to be a game changer with information dominance for the U.S. Navy," Roughead said.

"While the Advanced Hawkeye may look familiar, on the inside it is a totally new aircraft," said Ervin. "The systems represent a multi-generational leap in technology."

By: Shelldrake

Russian Bombers Probe Canadian Airspace

Two TU-95 Bear bombers were intercepted and turned back by Canadian CF-18 Hornet fighters this past Wednesday.
QMI Agency has learned that two CF-18s took off from CFB Bagotville to intercept two TU-95 long range bombers about 463 km east of Goose Bay, N.L.

Attempts by Russia to test Canadian airspace have been going on since 2007; military and intelligence analysts tell QMI Agency the frequency has been increasing since then, but one senior official described Wednesday's event as "not the usual s--t."

"The response as always was a rapid, effective deterrent," Defence Minister Peter MacKay told QMI Agency.

"They were in the buffer zone," said MacKay, stressing that although the planes did not enter Canada's sovereign airspace, the bombers did come inside the 300 nautical mile zone that Canada claims.

"They did not give us any advance notice," said MacKay, adding that NORAD fighter jets have intercepted between 12 and 18 Russian bombers per year since 2007. After the CF-18s made contact with the Russians the pilots shadowed them until the bombers turned northeast and headed out of Canadian airspace.

By: Shelldrake

AQI Resurgence?

A brazen attack in Baghdad by Al Qaeda results in 16 dead good guys, burned bodies, and a flag.

Militants flew an al-Qaida flag over a Baghdad neighborhood Thursday after killing 16 security officials and burning some of their bodies in a brazen afternoon attack that served as a grim reminder of continued insurgent strength in Iraq's capital.

It was the bloodiest attack in a day that included the deaths of 23 Iraqi soldiers, policemen and other security forces across the country who were targeted by shootings and roadside bombs.

The mayhem serves as a stark warning that insurgents are trying to make a comeback three months after their two top leaders were killed in an airstrike on their safehouse, and as the U.S. military presence decreases day by day.

The complex attack began when militants struck a checkpoint in the largely Sunni neighborhood of Azamiyah, once a stronghold of insurgents that in recent years has become more peaceful. Then the militants set it on fire, burning several of the soldiers' bodies, according to an army officer who was on patrol in the neighborhood. Minutes later, attackers detonated three roadside bombs nearby.

By: Brant

Military Maps: Europe At The Death of Charlemagne

By: Brant

Probe into Leak Willing to Follow Down Ratholes

There, did we squeeze enough euphemisms into the fact that the Pentagon may follow the Wikileaks investigation beyond the military?

A criminal investigation into the leak of tens of thousands of secret Afghanistan war logs could go beyond the military, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday, and he did not rule out that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could be a target.

"The investigation should go wherever it needs to go," Gates said.

Gates would not be more specific, waving off questions about whether Assange or media outlets that used the WikiLeaks material could be subjects of the criminal probe. But he noted that he has asked the FBI to help in the investigation "to ensure that it can go wherever it needs to go."

The Army is leading an inquiry inside the Defense Department into who downloaded some 91,000 secret documents and passed the material to WikiLeaks, an online archive that describes itself as a public service organization for whistle-blowers, journalists and activists.

By: Brant

Drug Lord Now Pushing Up Poppies From the Other End

Mexico has send at least one drug lord to the great beyond.

One of the top three leaders of Mexico's most powerful drug cartel died in a gunfight with soldiers Thursday, ending the long run of a mysterious capo considered a founder of the country's massive methamphetamine trade.

The death of Ignacio "Nacho" Coronel near the city of Guadalajara is the biggest strike yet against the Sinaloa cartel led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman — Mexico's top drug lord — since President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against drug traffickers in late 2006.

According to the FBI, which offered a $5 million reward for the 56-year-old Coronel, he was believed to be "the forerunner in producing massive amounts of methamphetamine in clandestine laboratories in Mexico, then smuggling it into the U.S."

Gen. Edgar Luis Villegas said an army raid was closing in one of Coronel's safehouses in an upscale suburb of the western city of Guadalajara, when the drug lord opened fire on soldiers.

By: Brant

29 July 2010

Body of MIA US Sailor Found

The search for a US sailor who went missing after a Taliban ambush has ended with the grim discovery of the murdered sailor's body on Wednesday.

The second U.S. sailor who went missing in eastern Afghanistan last week has been found dead and his body recovered.

The discovery Wednesday ended the urgent manhunt that began Friday evening when two U.S. Navy service members drove away from Camp Julien on the outskirts of Kabul and ended up in an apparent Taliban ambush in Logar province.

The two men, Petty Officer 2nd Class Justin McNeley, 30, of Wheat Ridge, Colo., and Petty Officer 3rd Class Jarod Newlove, 25, from the Seattle area, worked at NATO's counter-insurgency academy, where soldiers learn best practices in how to fight the Afghan war, NATO officials said.

U.S. troops recovered McNeley's body Sunday morning, but they held out hope that Newlove might be alive and could be found in the Charkh district area of Logar, where he was believed captured. But Wednesday evening, Newlove's body was found in Charkh in a village called Yousef, said Din Mohammad Darwish, a spokesman for the Logar governor.

Darwish said Newlove had been shot three times and might have been wounded in an initial attack Friday evening as the sailors drove their armored SUV through the area. NATO officials said that Newlove's body was found in the water and that he appeared to have been beaten to death.

By: Shelldrake

US Military Cargo Plane Crashes

Sad news today from Alaska.
A military cargo plane carrying four people on a training run has crashed at an Air Force base near downtown Anchorage, the Air Force said.

Witnesses reported seeing a ball of fire rising hundreds of feet (kilometres) high Wednesday night. Access to the crash site at Elmendorf Air Force Base has been closed.

The C-17, from the 3rd Wing based at Elmendorf, had been carrying four people onboard doing a training demonstration for an upcoming weekend air show, Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins said.

Atkins noted the plane was not an ejection aircraft and said no one was expected to have survived, but he added that he had no information on whether there were any fatalaties. “It's likely there are fatalities involved in this mishap,” Atkins said.

By: Shelldrake

UK In Action: HMS Somerset in the Gulf

Royal Navy Type 23 frigate HMS Somerset is pictured on operations in the Arabian Gulf. HMS Somerset is deployed to the area for 6 months, to participate in Operation TELIC and specifically, to provide security to Iraqi offshore oil infrastructure vital to the Iraqi economy and the reconstruction effort of the coalition campaign. During her deployment, Somerset will also support Operation ACTIVE ENDEAVOUR in the Mediterranean, providing reassurance and reinforcing freedom of navigation and conduct counter piracy operations of the Horn of Africa. She will also participate in a variety of multi-national exercises and support UK strategic interests in the Middle East.

Image: UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Slow News Day @ GrogNews

Shelldrake's s'posed to be on vacation and I'm at the hospital w/ the wife having a baby, so unless the rest of the gang gets mid-week post-happy, it'll be a slow news day for GrogNews..

By: Brant

Tonga to Deploy Troops to Afghanistan

In response to a request by the British government, the Kingdom of Tonga has agreed to send nearly 300 troops to Afghanistan. To put this in perspective, Tonga's population is just over 100,000, so this is a sizable commitment on the part of the tiny Pacific island nation. In spite of its small size, the Tongan military fought in both World Wars and continues to serve with honour.
Tonga's government has agreed to deploy 275 soldiers to Afghanistan over the next two years to help guard a British garrison at the request of Britain.

An initial contingent of 55 marines will be deployed in November, the first of four six-month rotations of 55 troops who will help guard Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, Tongan Prime Minister Feleti Sevele said Wednesday. Britain will command the troops and pay for the deployment, Sevele said.

He said the deployment would help to ease unemployment in his nation of 104,000 people, and foster closer ties between Tonga and Britain.

Tonga's Parliament approved the deployment 22-0 on Wednesday.

"This is an invitation from the British Army who saw our soldiers work in Iraq and then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote to our prime minister and asked for support," Brigadier Tauaika 'Uta'atu told the Matangi Tonga news website. "This is something we think is an honor to be a part of."

'Uta'atu said the British government would pay $4 million to cover Tongan costs the first year, including uniforms, ammunition, accommodation, travel expenses and a daily stipend for each soldier in Afghanistan. The soldiers will receive six weeks training in Britain before deployment, likely starting in late September or October.

Tongan officers chose the location for the deployment from among four sites during a visit to Afghanistan in May, the brigadier said.

"It looks safer than Iraq," he said. "Our soldiers will not be doing street patrols where there have been a lot of deaths. We will be doing force protection, and security on the boundaries of a camp, which is in the desert."

By: Shelldrake

Are All Afghan Militants "Terrorists"?

GEN Mattis wants them designated as such, to bring law enforcement to bear on them.

President Barack Obama's pick to lead the U.S. military command overseeing operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere said on Tuesday he wanted top leaders of two major insurgent groups designated as terrorists.

The Quetta Shura and the Haqqani network oppose U.S. forces in Afghanistan and officially blacklisting their leaders could trigger punitive measures, like freezing assets. Advocates say it would also send a strong message to Pakistan, under pressure to go after insurgents inside its borders.

'Both those groups have engaged in terrorism and I believe the leaders of both groups should be placed on the State Department list,' General James Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

By: Brant

28 July 2010

Vietnam to France: "NON!"

The commander of French forces at Dien Bien Phu recently passed, and had requested his askes be spread on the battlefield there, to which the Vietnamese said "no", according to the BBC.

Vietnam has turned down a request to scatter the ashes of a French war veteran at the site of a battle which helped end colonial rule by France.

General Marcel Bigeard, one of France's most decorated soldiers, who died last month, reportedly asked to rejoin his fallen comrades.

But a Vietnamese official is quoted as saying this would "create a precedent".

The refusal is thought to be a reference to American soldiers who might request similar treatment.

Gen Bigeard was a commanding officer during the battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, where French troops were surrounded and defeated by the forces of the Vietnamese Communists, the Viet Minh.

Before he died in France last month, aged 94, Gen Bigeard had asked for his ashes to be taken to the battlefield, where they would "rejoin his comrades who fell in battle", an aide said.

But as Herve Morin this week becomes the first French defence minister to visit Vietnam since Dien Bien Phu, the country's foreign and defence ministries have rejected Gen Bigeard's last request.

By: Brant

Faulty Parts Delay F-35B STOVL Flight Tests

Failed components and delayed follow-on maintenance are to blame for F-35B STOVL flight tests falling behind schedule.
On Lockheed Martin’s 2nd quarter conference call yesterday, CEO Bob Stevens told Wall Street analysts (transcript here) the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program was at a “critical juncture” as it transitions from development into production.

The systems development and demonstration phase is about 80 percent complete, he said. Of the 19 planned test aircraft, 15 have been delivered; only 13 will actually fly, the others are for structural tests. Nine of the “flyers” have so far completed a total of 136 test flights: the F-35A has flown 56 times; the F-35B short-takeoff and landing version has flown 74 times: and the carrier variant F-35C has flown six times.

"While the 74 test flights of the F-35B might look impressive, its actually behind schedule; it was supposed to have flown 95 times by now", Stevens said. “Higher than predicted” failure rates of component parts have grounded some F-35B test aircraft. Stevens described the failing parts as sub-components, not major parts such as the engine, which has been performing well.

“The components that are failing are more of the things that would appear either smaller or more ordinary like thermal cooling fans, door actuators, selected valves or switches or components of the power system.”

Yet, testers have had to pull the engines out to access those failed components and the follow-on maintenance has taken far longer than expected, Stevens said. Lockheed and its suppliers are trying to figure out whether the problems lie in botched manufacturing (Friday jobs), whether the design of the parts must be changed or whether the program needs to buy more spares. Stevens said the problem is fixable.

By: Shelldrake

Russians Not Complying With Existing Nuke Treaties?

It's going to be harder to get Congress to ratify START II if the Russians aren't honoring their existing treaties...

The United States believes Russia is not fully complying with international pacts involving chemical and biological weapons, although Moscow has settled most questions about violations of a nuclear arms treaty with the United States, according to a State Department report to be made public Wednesday.

The State Department Compliance Report had been requested earlier this month by seven of the eight Republicans on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They were concerned because the last report in 2005 highlighted what they described as "direct violations of START I by the Russians, " a reference to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed in 1991.

The report comes at a crucial time, as the Senate considers a new treaty that would replace START I. The Obama administration hopes to have it ratified by year's end, when Democrats will likely lose some of their Senate seats. The Foreign Relations Committee could vote on the treaty as early as next week.

By: Brant

Missing Money Bedevils Iraq Audits

Wow. It sure would be nice to know where $8.7 billion dollars went.

The Pentagon cannot properly account for nearly nine billion dollars in Iraqi oil revenues and other funds received for reconstruction programs after the 2003 US invasion, a US audit found Tuesday.

"The breakdown in controls left the funds vulnerable to inappropriate uses and undetected loss," the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said in a report.

The Pentagon received 9.1 billion dollars in 2004 from the fund set up by the US-led occupation authority to benefit Iraqis with Iraqi oil and gas revenues and assets seized from the ousted regime of Saddam Hussein.

But the audit found the Pentagon cannot properly account for 8.7 billion dollars because defense agencies that received the money failed to set up required Treasury accounts and no single organization was created to manage the funds.

By: Brant

War Heroes: Lt Gen Peter Walls, RIP

One of Africa's last great counterinsurgents passed away this week, years after being forced out of office by Robert Mugabe, the Despot of Zimbabwe. The Guardian's obituary is quite good:

Lieutenant-General Peter Walls, who has died aged 83, was the last commander of Ian Smith's Rhodesian armed forces; his otherwise distinguished military career ended in humiliation when he became involved in the political turmoil that surrounded Robert Mugabe's accession to power in Zimbabwe in 1980.

Walls seemed to adapt readily to the prospect of black majority rule. At Mugabe's request he undertook to help supervise the moulding of his own armed force with the motley legions of guerrilla fighters who had emerged from the bush after the protracted and ugly war.

But Mugabe was soon increasingly perturbed by reports that Walls was plotting a coup against him and his new regime. When he summoned Walls to ask him why he was planning to kill him, the general denied the reports vehemently, offering the most obvious evidence that any plotters were nothing to do with him: "If they had been my men you would have been dead."

The mood of suspicion prevailed, and Walls found his position in the new Zimbabwe untenable. He took himself into exile in South Africa, where he found groups of his disgruntled former Rhodesian security forces openly accusing him of having personally thwarted two attempts by special forces to assassinate Mugabe shortly after he had been elected.

A further bitter blow was the revelation that Ian Smith, a man he had supported throughout the lead up to the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and who had appointed him to lead the Rhodesian forces through the war, had been blaming Walls for many of the failures of the transition and had actually accused him of "traitorous activities".

Peter Walls was born in Rhodesia in 1927 into family with military tradition. His father, George, had been a pioneer pilot in the colony and had volunteered for service with the Royal Air Force shortly after its formation. When Peter left Plumtree school, one of the most distinguished in Rhodesia, he already had his sights set on an army career.

He volunteered for the British Army during the Second World War and attended the Staff College at Camberley, which welcomed students from the Commonwealth. When the war ended he joined the Black Watch and was appointed Assistant Adjutant in the Highland Brigade Training Centre.

He resigned his commission when the Army decided to transfer him, choosing, in his own words, "to return to my beloved Rhodesia rather serve in any regiment other than the Black Watch". He could not stay away from soldiering for long, joining the Southern Rhodesian Staff Corps in the rank of corporal. With his experience and application he was promoted rapidly through the ranks and was soon commissioned again.

He went to Malaya during the military operations against the communist insurgency from 1951 to 1953 as a commander of what was known as "The Far Eastern Volunteer Group" (which became "C" Squadron of the British SAS). It was composed entirely of Rhodesian officers and men, who gained much valuable experience in fighting a guerrilla war in wild and hostile terrain.

Walls continued to shine, and in 1964 assumed command of the 1st Battalion, the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI), a unit of tough young professional soldiers which was to become famous in the bush war. He was the ideal commander for "troopies", as the soldiers of the RLI were known. Walls was tall, broad-shouldered and a man of action who liked to lead from the front.

He was also a convivial and personable man who surprised those who served under him with an amazing memory of names and family circumstances. The sentiment in favour of UDI was growing among whites, alarmed by what they perceived as determination by the colonial power to hand over power to black majorities throughout its African territories.

Walls shared the mood, and allowed his men to wear paper hats inscribed with the words "RLI for UDI" on them, an act which won him a rare reproach from Brigadier Rodney Putterill, his commander at the time. The move made him even more popular, particularly among the politicians of the newly-elected Rhodesian Front party led by Ian Smith. When the first tentative incursions were made by nationalist guerrillas crossing from Zambia, the RLI went into action with swift success.

In 1972 Ian Smith approved the appointment of Walls as General Officer Commanding the Rhodesian Army, a promotion that came as no surprise. Smith liked Walls and, as a former RAF pilot himself, had known his father. In any event, he was preparing for his momentous declaration of independence and needed an army commander he could trust to support him.

Walls was quick to realise that UDI would mean an intensification of the guerrilla war from neighbouring countries, specifically from Zambia and Botswana by Joshua Nkomo's largely Matabele ZIPRA, and from Tanzania and Mozambique by ZANLA, drawn from the majority Shona people. He put his troops on full counter-insurgency readiness.

He knew from his Malayan experience that a key element in any anti-guerrilla war strategy would be the gathering of intelligence from within the enemy ranks. He summoned his old friend and colleague from the Malayan emergency and the RLI, Ron Reid-Daly, and asked him to form the Selous Scouts, a unit that ostensibly would be for tracking but would operate clandestinely behind and within guerrilla ranks.

It was a crucial move as, the following year, following a bloodless coup in Lisbon, Portugal withdrew from its two vast African territories, Angola and Mozambique, leaving Rhodesia's eastern and western borders open to mass infiltration by black nationalist forces trained and fully equipped by the Soviet Union and Cuba. Efficient and experienced as they were, the Rhodesian forces knew that sooner or later they would be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of the nationalists, backed by a world which perceived them to be gallant freedom fighters opposed to an oppressive white supremacist regime.

Walls was made head of Joint Operations Command (JOC) in 1977 and, as Rhodesia desperately tried to bolster its numbers, assumed command of more than 45,000 men. It was not enough, and he knew it. Many farms were attacked, villages were infiltrated throughout the rural areas, landmines were laid in the dirt roads and military convoys were attacked with rocket-propelled grenades. Two civilian airliners were brought down by SAM-7 missiles. The bush war turned increasingly ugly, with atrocities being committed by both sides.

For a time, Rhodesian special forces attempted to take and hold key areas of Mozambique to halt the unceasing flow of guerrillas into Rhodesia. Walls, typically, once parachuted into an area of northern Mozambique at Christmas with a consignment of roast turkey for his men. The turkey helped to bolster the troops morale – as did the fact that the general landed in a large deep puddle and emerged covered in mud.

Ian Smith and his Rhodesian Front party also realised that their only hope of survival rested in political negotiations. With Margaret Thatcher in power in Britain, anxious to rid herself of "this tiresome Rhodesian problem", Smith sought British mediation in the hope of political salvation.

The resulting Lancaster House conference resulted in a British interregnum in Rhodesia, with Lord Soames as governor backed by a team of top Foreign Office officials and a small force of British troops. Walls, as head of the highly-trained and experienced Rhodesian forces, found himself drawn inexorably into the political process.

Contingency plans for the elections which resulted from the Lancaster House agreement were drawn up by the military in consultation with the Lord Soames. The hope was that Bishop Muzorewa, the moderate Shona politician who had surprisingly won a previous election, would be able to hold Mashonaland while Joshua Nkomo, the moderate leader of the Matabele people, would comfortably hold his homeland in the west of the country.

The officially-approved safety net beneath this hastily-arranged scheme was that Robert Mugabe would be "eliminated" should he win the election. But the contingency plan was never implemented in the confusion that arose after Mugabe's ZANU party swept the board with a convincing majority.

Walls immediately wrote to Mrs Thatcher calling for a new election, claiming that the imperfect "assembly point" plan for guerrillas to gather and hand in their weapons had not worked and that the insurgents had infiltrated most rural areas. His plea was in vain. Mrs Thatcher wanted the long-running issue solved quickly, and Lord Soames was instructed to embrace and welcome a new black leader of an independent Zimbabwe.

Salisbury was suddenly awash with recriminations among white political and military leaders and most of the white population. As Mugabe's guerrillas rode through the streets of the capital brandishing their weapons, Walls became a main target for the blame. The beleaguered general decided that the best option was to opt immediately to serve the Mugabe regime by organising the amalgamation of the rival armies, believing this would offer the best future for the many thousands of professional officers and men who had fought for him for so long and with much sacrifice.

Mugabe, in the spirit of reconciliation he affected at the time, agreed. Walls went on national television to warn that troublemakers among his former forces "will not be tolerated". It was too late. Disaffected Rhodesian security forces fled to South Africa and elsewhere, along with many thousands of whites. Mugabe, who as new president of Zimbabwe was inundated with various "intelligence" reports, became convinced that Walls was secretly organising a coup and fired him.

Peter Walls went into exile in South Africa, settling at Plettenburg Bay, a fashionable resort on the Western Cape coast. He never wrote his memoirs but remained in seclusion with his second wife until he collapsed and died on July 20 while on his way to a holiday in the Kruger National Park. He is survived by his wife and by four children from his first marriage.

By: Widow 6-7

Rwanda is Rotating Soldiers Thru Darfur

As a part of the peacekeeping mission there, Rwanda is rotating infantry battalions through Darfur.

RWANDA Defence Forces (RDF) yesterday began a rotation exercise of its soldiers serving under the UN-AU hybrid mission in Sudan, after a one-year tour of duty.

The rotation process began yesterday with over 200 soldiers returning after one year of service in the troubled Sudanese region while a similar number was sent to replace them.

For the first time, the troops were airlifted from the northern African country by the national carrier RwandaAir.

The returning troops were received at Kigali International Airport by Brig. Gen Jean Bosco Kazura, who commended them for the good service and positively representing the country on the peacekeeping mission.

"The country is proud of you. The role you have played along with your colleagues to ensure that peace returns to Sudan makes our country proud," Kazura told the soldiers.

He told them that while it is time to rest after the long service in Sudan, it will be only for a short while before they resume serving the country.

"You might be aware that we are heading into elections, so there will be no much time to rest. It is service as usual. We expect you to ensure that peace prevails during this period," Kazura told the rejoicing soldier.

According to the Army Spokesperson Lt. Col Jill Rutaremara, 100 soldiers from the 45th Battalion, were airlifted in the wee hours of the morning by RwandAir to replace the ones who returned from the 49th in the area known as Zalinge in Darfur commanded by Lt. Col. Callixte Kanimba,.

By: Brant

India Commits to New Jets

But they aren't the fighters we've been expecting... They've signed a large deal with BAE for training aircraft.

British defence group BAE Systems will supply 57 Hawk jet trainers to India's air force and navy, Indian defence ministry officials said on Wednesday, a contract potentially worth $775 million.
The deal will boost British defence firms looking to break into the huge Indian defence market mostly controlled by Russian, US and Isreali companies.

New Delhi plans to spend $100 billion over the next decade to overhaul its Soviet-era defence system.

BAE will supply 40 trainer jets to the air force and the remainder to the navy.

By: Brant

France Declares War

No really, France has declared war against al-Qaeda.

France has declared war on al-Qaida, and matched its fighting words with a first attack on a base camp of the terror network's North African branch, after the terror network killed a French aid worker it took hostage in April.

The declaration and attack marked a shift in strategy for France, usually discrete about its behind-the-scenes battle against terrorism.

"We are at war with al-Qaida," Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Tuesday, a day after President Nicolas Sarkozy announced the death of 78-year-old hostage Michel Germaneau.

I promise we are not making this up.

By: Brant

27 July 2010

Active Denial System Withdrawn From Afghanistan

The heat ray gun sounds like science fiction but it exists and was deployed to Afghanistan where it was apparently a bust. I am not sure what to make of the comment that it was tested on journalists!

The Active Denial System (ADS) is a non-lethal weapon that heats up the skin "intolerably" but, according to tests, causes no permanent damage.

Its invisible beam is designed to repel enemies and disperse violent crowds, causing anyone targeted to immediately move away.

US military commanders in the country have had the weapon at their disposal but have now decided against using it.

The weapon was never actually deployed in a 'real life' scenario.

"The ADS was not used and was shipped from Afghanistan. The operational need for the device was not approved by commanders", confiirmed Colonel Shanks, Chief of Public Affairs for ISAF.

The beam produced by the ADS can travel more than 500m (1,640ft) and is seen as a potential way to limit war zone fatalaties in the future.

It's already been tested more than 11,000 times on around 700 volunteers, including journalists.

The US military says the chance of injury is 0.1% as the beam only penetrates the skin to the equivalent of three sheets of paper.

By: Shelldrake

AU Planning to Beef Up Somalia Force

In addition to a potential mission change, the AU is planning to send reinforcements to Somalia.

African Union leaders have agreed to reinforce the AU peacekeeping force in Somalia to tackle al-Shabab militants.

At a summit in Uganda, they approved a request to send 2,000 more troops to the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Rules of engagement are to be changed to allow the troops to fire first if they are facing imminent attack.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni had wanted a tougher mandate to "eliminate" the al-Qaeda linked group that allowed forces to go on the offensive.

By: Brant

More Wikileaks Fallout: Targeting Lists Under Fire?

You usually win a war by killing the other guys. That makes it puzzling that someone would take issue with a list of the guys to kill.

Among the thousands of pages of classified U.S. documents released Sunday by the whistle-blower website are nearly 200 incidents that involve Task Force 373, an elite military special operations unit tasked with hunting down and killing enemy combatants in Afghanistan.

Denouncing suggestions that U.S. troops are engaged in war crimes in Afghanistan, military officials and even war crimes experts said Monday that enemy hit lists, while ugly and uncomfortable, are an enduring and sometimes unavoidable staple of war.

Some, however, cautioned that without proper controls that mandate the protection of innocent civilians, such targeted hits could veer into criminal activities.

Buried in the documents are descriptions of Task Force 373's missions, laying bare graphic violence as well as mistakes, questionable judgments and deadly consequences — sometimes under fire, other times not.

In June 2007, the unit went in search of Taliban commander Qari Ur-Rahman. According to the files, U.S. forces, under the cover of night, engaged in a firefight with suspected insurgents and called in an AC-130 gunship to take out the enemy.

Only later did they realize that seven of those killed and four of those wounded were Afghan National Police. The incident was labeled a misunderstanding, due in part to problems with the Afghan forces conducting night operations.

In another mission, members of Task Force 373 conducted a secret raid, hoping to snag al-Qaida commander Abu Laith al-Libi, who was believed to be running terrorist training camps in Pakistan's border region. Five rockets were launched into a group of buildings, and when forces moved into the destroyed area they found six dead insurgents and seven dead children. Al-Libi was not among the dead.

By: Brant

Chinese Irked By US Comments On Islands Dispute

Rising tension between Washington and Beijing was reflected in the angry response by the Chinese media and government to Secretary of State Clinton's musings about possible US mediation of the ongoing regional dispute over ownership of over 250 small islands located in the South China Sea.
The Chinese government reacted angrily on Monday to an announcement by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that Washington might step into a long-simmering territorial dispute between China and its smaller neighbors in the South China Sea.

Speaking Friday during a forum of Southeast Asian countries in Vietnam, Mrs. Clinton apparently surprised Beijing by saying the United States had a “national interest” in seeking to mediate the dispute, which involves roughly 200 islands, islets and coral outcroppings that are claimed by China, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi of China warned the United States against wading into the conflict, saying it would increase regional tensions.

“What will be the consequences if this issue is turned into an international or multilateral one?” he asked in remarks published on the Foreign Ministry’s Web site. “It will only make matters worse and the resolution more difficult.”

The state-run news media were far less diplomatic, describing Mrs. Clinton’s speech as “an attack” and a cynical effort to suppress China’s aspirations — and its expanding might.

“America hopes to contain a China with growing military capabilities,” ran an editorial Monday in the Communist Party-run People’s Daily newspaper.

Global Times, an English-language tabloid published by People’s Daily, said, “China will never waive its right to protect its core interest with military means.”

By: Shelldrake

Sailor KIA in Taliban Ambush Recovered; MIA Still, well, MIA

The US has recovered the body of the sailor killed in Afghanistan ambush in which his comrade was snatched by the Taliban.

The body of one of two US sailors missing in Afghanistan since last week has been found, Nato says.

Afghan and foreign forces recovered the man's remains on Sunday in the eastern province of Logar after an extensive search, said a Nato statement.

The two vanished on Friday after driving out of a military base without escort for reasons that remain unclear.

The Taliban has already said they killed one of the men in a gun battle and captured the other.

By: Brant

Poor Analysis of WikiLeaks Documents Already Underway

The Atlantic is talking about the "5 Biggest Revelations of Wikileaks Documents"...

30 Years Later, Taliban Still Have Stingers During the anti-Soviet Afghan War of the 1980s, the U.S. helped the Afghan insurgents secure stinger missiles. After the Soviet military withdrew and during the civil war of the 1990s, which is when the Taliban first emerged, the U.S. attempted to recover all of the missiles. But the New York Times reports, 'The Taliban have used portable heat-seeking missiles against allied aircraft, a fact that has not been publicly disclosed by the military. This type of weapon helped the Afghan mujahedeen defeat the Soviet occupation in the 1980s.'

No. They don't. There are other IR anti-aircraft missiles than Stingers. And the US publicly disclosed the use of SA-7s over a year ago. Here's the info from DefenseTech, and the article includes a link to the transcript of a media conference call in which the SA-7s were discussed.

Yet, during an April 2009 conference call with reporters and bloggers, Lt. Gen. Gary North, U.S. Air Forces Central Commander, acknowledged that the Taliban do in fact use IR MANPADs (heat-seeking, shoulder fired missiles) in response to a reporter’s question on the subject. Here’s what North said:

“We do see, particularly in our rotor force, RPG-7s fired, of course, unguided. We see occasionally the SA– 7 type handheld IRSAM. Every aircraft in our tactical lift and our rotor type helicopters have got defensive measures capability and our intelligence is very good and so our aviators going out are armed with the latest intelligence and the best in technology for IR missile defeat and so we’re very comfortable with the technology, the capabilities, and as you know, aviators, both rotor and fixed, have to keep their head on a swivel because it is dangerous out there on occasion.”

Edit: link to the original AtlanticWire doc that Yahoo pulled. 5 Biggest Revelations of Wikileaks Documents | The Atlantic Wire

By: Brant

Women In Uniform: US Patrol

Zalkovsky on patrol in Iraq

By: Widow 6-7

India's Missile Defense System Still Passing Trials

India has successfully tested another stage of the missile interception scheme.

India Monday successfully tested for the fourth consecutive time a ballistic missile interceptor from a defence base in Orissa as part of its endeavour to create an impregnable shield against incoming enemy missiles, defence sources said.

The indigenous interceptor was fired from Wheeler Island off the Orissa coast near Dhamra in Bhadrak district, about 170 km from state capital Bhubaneswar.

It successfully destroyed an incoming ballistic missile - a variant of the Prithvi II that lifted off from Launch Complex-III of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur-on-sea in Balasore district, about 70 km from Wheeler Island across the sea.

The single stage interceptor, fitted with a directional warhead and other advanced systems, neutralized the target at an altitude of 15 km in the endo-atmosphere (upto a height of 30 km).

By: Brant

Mexico Unravels Into War; Border Still Not Closed

Can someone please bring back Blackkack Pershing? He knew how to run a punitive expedition against criminals hiding across the border.

Soldiers in Mexico have uncovered a mass grave with at least 38 bodies in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.

Security forces said an anonymous tip-off led them to the site almost the size of a football pitch.

Investigators believe drug gangs used the remote spot to torture and kill their victims.


Police found blood on an earthen ramp and traces of petrol at the bottom, where victims may have been tortured.

By: Brant

26 July 2010

The Invasion That Never Was

A posting from Ptak Science Books revisits a 1935 article in Forbes magazine about possible objectives, axes of advance, and so forth for an invasion of the mainland US in that era.

Makes you nostalgic for Milton-Bradley's old Fortress America game, doesn't it?

By: Guardian

ed note...
Here's the listing for Fortress America at BGG

Love the Saddam look-a-like on the right side of the box there...

Death Toll Rising in Afghanistan? Long-term Trend Up or Down?

The CJCS is talking about about likely increases in casualties as combat operations ramp up. Not exactly groundbreaking, but The Examiner called it a "bombshell" in their headline. I guess it is if you're not paying attention.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, stated that more NATO troops will die in Afghanistan and the war will get worse before it gets better. While Mullen went on to say that getting control of the escalating rise in insurgent activity is within reach, the message was clear, more soldiers would die before NATO gained the upper hand. In a country where coalition deaths are fast approaching 2000 over a ten year period, further casualties have caused an international outcry.

Mullen’s comments came on the heels of a Taliban announcement that they were holding one of two American servicemen who, according to the Taliban, had wandered into insurgent territory. The second of the two men was killed. A NATO spokesman declined any comment regarding the Taliban’s claims. While the Afghan government said in a conference the prior week that they would commit to complete countrywide security by 2014, civilians are becoming enraged at the number of non-military casualties. The latest wave of anti-coalition sentiment centers on recent raids by foreign forces in Sangin.

The number of reports of civilian casualties has been steadily growing in the region. The Afghan government is looking into civilian reports that claim innocent villagers had been killed during a raid by supposedly friendly forces in Sangin. While NATO forces admit to being aware of the report, they have declined to comment. With civilian deaths and rumors of increased military activity, many who once cheered the coalition forces are now outraged at their actions. As U.S. troops pull out of certain areas, the Taliban and their sympathizers move in and reclaim lost ground

The district of Barg-i-Matal, an area that has changed hands several times, has been retaken by Taliban guerillas. Washington’s strategy of moving U.S. troops to more populated regions leaves these remote areas open to recapture by insurgents.

By: Brant

ASW Drills Off Korea

The joint US-Korea drills are focusing on anti-submarine efforts. Gee, I wonder why?

The US and South Korea practised anti-submarine drills on the second day of joint exercises aimed as a show of strength to North Korea.

Officials said the drills in the Sea of Japan focused on detecting and destroying enemy submarines.

They follow the 26 March sinking of a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, near the inter-Korean maritime border.

International investigators say a torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine sank the ship.

By: Brant

FusionNet for Everyone!

So apparently this file that The Guardian was playing with that shows all the IED attacks is the SIGACTS listing from some combination of FusionNet and CIDNE (and maybe TiGR), all plotted on a map.

The improvised explosive device (IED) is the Taliban's weapon of choice, a deadly yet effective counter to the technological superiority of their western adversaries in Afghanistan. It is the biggest single cause of deaths of British troops in Helmand and has proven impossible to completely counter.

In their simplest form, IEDs are roadside bombs triggered by command wire, radio signal, mobile phone or by the victim, usually by walking or driving over the devices. Their explosive power comes from shells, diesel or fertiliser.

Despite their crudeness, the IEDs are a fearsome enemy. Insurgents employ ruses to outwit electronic counter-measures (ECM) – sophisticated devices used by western soldiers to jam radio signals. Earlier this year all-plastic IEDS, which cannot be detected by traditional mine-sweepers, started to appear on the battlefield. And they are every deadlier, with some able to penetrate the most thick-skinned armoured vehicle.
Extracted from the full Wikileaks database, this spreadsheet provides a unique record of attacks since 2004. It only covers roadside bombs and does not include person- or vehicle-borne suicide bombs. We have left out hoaxes (counted as IED incidents in official figures) and only include IED explosions, IED ambushes - where an explosion is combined with an ambush by insurgents - and those that have been found and cleared.

Good thing CIDNE's got that database secured, eh?

By: Brant

Paranoia and Chavez - a Match Made in, well, in Venezuela

Chavez is suspending a trip to Cuba, in expectation of an imminent military raid from Colombia.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez suspended on Sunday his trip to Cuba in fear of an imminent Colombian military raid to his country aided by the U.S. Forces, Xinhua reports.
During a massive meeting with his followers that was broadcast by state-run TV channel Venezolana de Television (VTV), Chavez said that if Venezuela is raided by Colombia his government will immediately stop the oil supply to the United States.
Chavez also announced to apply internal measure against the governors of the opposition to neutralize the support of anti- revolutionary sectors to the foreign forces. Chavez said these measures will also be applied to the media and civil organizations against his government.
'Let's not be panic. We are threatened by the Yankee Empire,' Chavez said. He also mentioned the U.S. bases established in Colombia and he added that the United States invent excuses to attack, invade, kidnap or kill the president of any country.

And Hyperbole Man strikes again! If such a phantom raid were ever to materialize outside of Chavez's own delusional mind, he just might shoot his nation's economy in the foot by cutting off oil flow to the US and take down 90% of his exports in the process.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez threatened on Sunday to cut oil supplies to the United States in case of a military attack from Colombia as a dispute escalated over charges his country harbors Colombian rebels.

A vocal and frequent critic of the United States, Chavez broke off diplomatic relations with Colombia last week over the claims by the outgoing government of President Alvaro Uribe, a close U.S. ally.

Chavez, a leftist who says Washington is behind the charges, has never carried out previous threats to cut oil supplies to the United States, Venezuela's main customer.

"If there was any armed aggression against Venezuela from Colombian territory or from anywhere else, promoted by the Yankee empire, we would suspend oil shipments to the United States, even if we have to eat stones here," he said.

"We would not send a drop more to U.S. refineries," he said to a roar of approval from thousands of supporters at a rally for his Socialist party.

Chavez, a former soldier and close ally of Cuba's Fidel Castro, is also angry with Bogota over a deal to allow U.S. troops access to a series of military bases.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Hawks Over Wales

The RAF's latest fast jet trainer, the Hawk T2 is pictured during a flight over the beautiful scenery of North Wales. Based at RAF Valley on the Isle of Anglesey, the TMK2 Hawk is designed to train fast jet fighter pilots air combat and tactical weapons use, preparing them for front line operational aircraft like the Typhoon and Tornado.

Image: UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

AQMI Kills French Hostage

Despite - or maybe because of - the French raid of AQians in North Africa, the French are confirming the death of their aid worker who was captured by the terrorists.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed Monday that the 78-year-old French hostage Michel Germaneau, who was kidnapped in April, has been killed by a North African wing of al-Qaida, according to a declaration by the Elysee Palace.

After a defence and security meeting on the issue, which was attended by Prime Minister Francois Fillon, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux and other concerned high profile officials in the morning, Sarkozy declared the confirmation.

The president denounced the revenge killing was "barbarous" and "odious" act, calling French compatriots to avoid traveling in Sahel region of West Africa.

The al-Qaida African branch, AQMI, said Sunday it has killed the French hostage, a retired engineer, in retaliation for the killing of six of its members in a recent raid by Mauritanian troops supported by French military forces, but the Elysee Palace excluded any confirmation on Sunday evening.

By: Brant

Wikileaks Setting New Outdoor Record for Missing the Point

Assange is back on his messiah high-horse again, claiming there are crimes documented in his 'leaks' from the Afghan war.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said Monday he believes there is evidence of war crimes in the thousands of pages of leaked U.S. military documents relating to the war in Afghanistan.
The remarks came after WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing group, posted some 91,000 classified U.S. military records over the past six years about the war online, including unreported incidents of Afghan civilian killings and covert operations against Taliban figures.
The White House, Britain and Pakistan have all condemned the release of the documents, one of the largest unauthorized disclosures in military history.
Assange told reporters in London that "it is up to a court to decide really if something in the end is a crime."

Like, maybe, I dunno,


There. I feel better.

By: Brant

Canadian JSF Purchase Not A Done Deal!

Apparently there is nothing to hold Canada to the planned purchase of the Joint Strike Fighter until a contract is signed in 2013. This means that a future Liberal government may nix the deal - talk about deja vu! Remember the EH-101 helicopter debacle?

Canada won't be required to sign a contract committing it to purchasing new multi-billion-dollar stealth fighters until 2013, opening the door for any future government to back away from the proposed deal.

The Conservative government's decision in mid-July to spend an estimated $16 billion on the Joint Strike Fighter has sparked controversy, with opposition parties questioning whether the purchase is needed at a time when the country's deficit has ballooned to $50 billion.

Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff, concerned that no competition was held to select the fighter plane, known as the JSF, has vowed to review the deal if his party forms the next government. The proposed purchase is the most expensive military equipment procurement in Canadian history.

Military and aerospace industry officials say despite the Conservative's announcement there is nothing at this point holding Canada to the acquisition. That won't come until 2013 when the contract will be signed with the U.S. government for the delivery of the first airplanes, industry representatives, including those with JSF-manufacturer Lockheed Martin, confirm.

"We have no contract or agreement requiring us to purchase this aircraft," said Alan Williams, the Defence Department's former assistant deputy minister, who signed the original memorandum in 2002 that allowed Canada to participate in the initial development of the JSF. "That's all the more reason to hold a competition so taxpayers can get the best value out of this."

The 2002 memorandum, signed under the then-Liberal government, has Canada investing $150 million U.S. into the JSF program so Canadian firms would be allowed to bid on building parts for the planes. Canadian firms have received an estimated $328 million in contracts from that deal, according to the government.

In 2006, the Conservative government signed an agreement that would commit Canada to contributing $551 million U.S. between now and 2051. That would cover Canada's portion of equipment and development needed for its share of the JSF planes that it wants to purchase.

That memorandum allows for a country to pull out of the agreement, with aerospace industry officials noting the penalties at this point would be small as Canada has yet to order aircraft.

But Tom Burbage, a senior official on Lockheed Martin's JSF program, said any pullout of the program will significantly hurt Canadian firms who are hoping to receive more contracts.

By: Shelldrake

The Latest Annoyance From Wikileaks

Rather than try to round up all the kerfluffle over Wikileaks latest document drop, we're going to point you to Small Wars Journal's blog post, with a nice excerpt from the NY Times, and a forearm-long list of other links to explore. It just didn't make sense for us to regurgitate a perfectly good list from elsewhere. C'mon back when you're done.

By: Brant

Monday Video: Remembering Vietnam

Going for an old-school BANG this week, both music and video...

Don't forget to nominate your own videos in the comments below for future inclusion

By: Brant

Farewell to GEN(R) McChrystal

Although I knew him only by reputation, it's still sad to see a great American warrior like General Stanley A. McChrystal retire under difficult circumstances. He did put his own touch on his retirement ceremony, though:

In a departure from tradition, the troops in attendance wore battlefield camouflage instead of more formal uniforms.

Read more at the Washington Post.

Best wishes, good luck, and, most of all, a heartfelt "thank you" to GEN(R) McChrystal for all he's done as a warrior and a leader in the Global War on Terror and in the battles both known and unknown that came before.

By: Guardian

25 July 2010

Australian F-111 Bombers To Soon Be Retired

Royal Australian Air Force F-111 bombers, nicknamed the "Flying Pigs", are participating in one last exercise before the venerable aircraft are retired after 37 years of service.
The long-range F-111 bomber was nicknamed for its ability to "hunt at night with its nose in the weeds" thanks to terrain-following radar that let it sweep in on targets at a low level.

The iconic swing-wing aircraft was ordered for the RAAF in the 1960s because they could carry nuclear weapons and had the range to bomb Jakarta at a time when Indonesia was seen as a serious threat. As it turned out, the Australian F-111s (there are 17 left in the RAAF) played a key strategic deterrent role but they never flew in wartime.

They are the RAAF's longest current serving aircraft and four of them from No 6 Squadron at RAAF Amberley, in Queensland, are taking part in exercise "Pitch Black" over the Northern Territory. The three-week, day and night, air combat exercise involves aircraft from Singapore, New Zealand and Thailand.

While a series of crashes before development problems were ironed out blackened the aircraft's name in public eyes, No 6 squadron commander Micka Gray said the F-111 was an aircraft ahead of its time.

"It was one of the first twin-engine swing-wing aircraft and has enormous flexibility of range and endurance," Wing Commander Gray said.

"I am sure the end of 2010 will be an emotional time for many people when we say goodbye to the Pig. But for now we have F-111s to prepare, fly and fight."

The F-111s arrived at Amberley in 1973.

"The F-111 is just a magnificent aircraft," Wing Commander Gray said. "I first flew it 22 years ago as a young fellow and I've flown a lot of hours in it. It touches you just to be part of the F-111 community, whether you are flying it, maintaining it or supporting it."

The F-111 can carry out long-range operations by day or night and can locate targets at night and in bad weather. It carries laser-guided weapons and came with a sophisticated warning system to detect an enemy's radar emissions and alert the crew to surface or air attacks.

The F-111 is being replaced immediately by the RAAF's new Super Hornet fighter bombers and, ultimately, by the 100 multi-role Joint Strike Fighters the RAAF plans to buy.

By: Shelldrake

UK "Bomb Magnet" Interviewed

WO2 Patrick Hyde has to be one of the luckiest soldiers in Afghanistan, having survived being blown up 15 times in the space of only 6 months. It is no surprise that he has been nicknamed "bomb magnet"! Read The Sunday Telegraph interview here.

Warrant Officer Class 2 (WO2) Patrick Hyde was attacked on 15 separate occasions during his company's six month mission, part of which was to secure a key supply route leading to the strategically important town of Sangin.

His unit – A Company 4 Rifles – repelled more than 500 attacks and was forced to contend with 200 improvised explosive device (IED) incidents.

Fragmentation bombs, dubbed by the soldiers as "party poppers" were routinely fired at troops, armoured vehicles were attacked with long range Chinese rockets rockets, dummy bombs were used to lure in bomb disposal teams, and insurgents recruited children to plant IEDs just yards away from British bases.

One in four of the company were killed or injured in battle - a casualty rate last experienced by the British Army in the Korean War. Ten soldiers were killed in action and a further 53 were wounded.

WO2 Hyde, A Company's sergeant major, was in charge of six strong team which ran a daily gauntlet of bomb attacks to keep beleaguered troops supplied with food, water and ammunition.

The 34-year-old married father of two was hit by IEDs 11 times while in a vehicle and twice while on foot patrol. On two other occasions his Mastiff armoured troop carrier was struck by rockets.


Despite the gruelling nature of the operation, W02 Hyde says that he would "go back tomorrow given half the chance" but added: "I might have to convince the wife first."

The 4th battalion the Rifles are due to return to Helmand in 2013.

By: Shelldrake

Updates to US MIA

CNN is reporting one sailor dead, one sailor alive and abducted.

One American service member who was abducted in Afghanistan on Friday has been killed, provincial government officials said Sunday.
Den Mohammad Darwish, the spokesman for the governor of Logar province, said he learned from locals that the service member was killed.
Another official, Samar Gul Rashid -- who is the governor of the Charkh district in Logar province -- also confirmed the killing, saying he learned about it through Afghan intelligence officials.
A second service member who was also abducted at the same time is still missing.
Rashid said the second soldier is wounded.
Three U.S. military officials told CNN the two service members are from the Navy.
Taliban Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the two Americans were driving in a civilian vehicle in the village of Dasht, in Charkh district.
The Taliban wanted to take both men alive, but a firefight broke out, killing one of the Americans, Mujahid said. The other is alive and being held in a safe location, he said

By: Brant

More UAV Strikes in Pakistan

The US is still shooting missiles at wanna-be martyrs in Pakistan.

Unmanned U.S. aircraft fired four missiles at a house in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday, killing five suspected militants in the second drone strike in as many days, intelligence officials said.

The U.S. has launched more than 100 missile strikes in Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal area along the Afghan border over the past several years. Most have them have targeted militants in North and South Waziristan, important sanctuaries for Afghan and Pakistani Taliban fighters.

The house that was destroyed Sunday was in Shaktoi, a village along the border of North and South Waziristan. The attack, which actually occurred in South Waziristan, also wounded four suspected militants, said the intelligence officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The strike came a day after U.S. aircraft fired six missiles at a compound in the Nazai Narai area of South Waziristan, killing 16 suspected militants. The hide-out was known to be frequented by foreign fighters who were among the dead, intelligence officials said.

By: Brant

Massive Afghan Search On for US MIA

There's an American missing after an ambush in Afghanistan.

Allied forces have begun a widespread search for two US servicemen who went missing in Afghanistan on Friday, reportedly snatched by the Taliban.

A spokesman for the insurgents said one of the Americans had been killed in a gunfight, but the other was being held.

The Taliban claims could not be verified independently. Military officials have released few details.

In a local radio broadcast, the US had earlier offered $20,000 for information.

Allied forces have been using helicopters and troops on the ground to search for the men.

AFP quoted a Taliban fighter called Zabihullah Mujahid as saying the surviving serviceman and his dead colleague had been taken to a 'safe location'.

And apparently there's an exchange offer floating around out there.

The Taliban have offered to exchange the body of a U.S. Navy sailor they said was killed in an ambush two days ago in exchange for insurgent prisoners, an Afghan official said Sunday.

U.S. and NATO officials confirmed that two American Navy personnel went missing Friday in the eastern province of Logar, after an armored sports utility vehicle was seen driving into a Taliban-held area.

In a telephone interview Sunday with The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the pair drove into an area under insurgent control, prompting a brief gunfight in which one American was killed and the other was captured. He said both were taken to a 'safe area' and 'are in the hands of the Taliban.'

By: Brant

Order of Battle: 442nd Regimental Combat Team in WWII

First of all, we were struggling with this being either a "War Heroes" entry or an "Order of Battle" entry. We're tagging it with both, but we're putting it in a regular feature instead of an occasional one.

The order of battle is also found on a site with an outstanding history of the unit.

-442nd Infantry Regiment
---1st Battalion (100th Infantry Battalion) - Companies A, B, C, D
---2nd Battalion - Companies E, F, G, H
---3rd Battalion - Companies I, K, L, M
-522 Field Artillery Battalion - 16 Mar 1945, reassigned to 7th Army
-232 Combat Engineering Company
-Anti- Tank Company
-Cannon Company
-Service Company
-206 Army Band

** Supporting Units
-599th Field Artillery Battalion of 92nd Division

As recounted by Cracked.com, it was one of the most impressive units in the US Army in WWII.

What you may not know is that some Japanese-Americans not stranded behind barbed wire actually fought in the U.S. military, a few thousand of them in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. And they performed pretty well.

And by "pretty well" we mean the 3,800 Japanese-American Rambos in the 442nd won 18,143 awards. That's not a typo. While serving in Africa, Italy, France and Germany, they won a mind-boggling 21 Medals of Honor, 52 Distinguished Service Crosses, 560 Silver Stars, 4,000 Bronze Stars and 9,486 Purple Hearts.

Wait. See that last number? Did you remember that those 9,486 Purple Hearts were earned by just 3,800 men? That's two and a half serious battle wounds per soldier.

This is the list of CMOH awards for the 442nd, according to Wikipedia.

Barney F. Hajiro
Mikio Hasemoto
Joe Hayashi
Shizuya Hayashi
Daniel K. Inouye
Yeiki Kobashigawa
Robert T. Kuroda
Kaoru Moto
Sadao Munemori
Kiyoshi K. Muranaga
Masato Nakae
Shinyei Nakamine
William K. Nakamura
Joe M. Nishimoto
Allan M. Ohata
James K. Okubo
Yukio Okutsu
Frank H. Ono
Kazuo Otani
George T. Sakato
Ted T. Tanouye

The symbolism of the unit crest comes from The Institute of Heraldry:

A silver color metal and enamel device 1 1/8 inches (2.86cm) in height overall consisting of the shield and motto of the coat of arms.

Blue and white are used for Infantry. The taro leaf, from the coat of arms of the 100th Infantry Battalion, is identified with Hawaii and the Mississippi River steam boat symbolizes the place of activation of the 442d Infantry Regiment.

The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 442d Infantry Regiment, Organized Reserves Corps (Hawaii) on 22 May 1952. It was amended to withdraw "Organized Reserves Corps" from the designation on 30 Jun 1959.

By: Brant

My New Favorite T-Shirt

From the boys over at Ranger Up

By: Brant

New START Treaty Stuck On "Stop"

The US Senate is balking at the new START treaty, as the AP reports.

The once smooth path for Senate ratification of a major nuclear arms control agreement with Russia is looking a little dicier.

Conservatives opposing New START, a replacement for a Cold War-era treaty, are trying to make it an issue in November's congressional elections.

While they are unlikely to kill the agreement, they could force Democrats to delay a ratification vote until after the election. That could be damaging to President Barack Obama. A narrow victory after a lengthy, contentious debate could destroy his hopes for achieving more ambitious goals, including further reductions of nuclear weapons and ratification of a nuclear test ban treaty.

By: Brant

24 July 2010

War Budget Winding Thru Congress

Looks like some of the usual pork might not survive the Congressional budget process. If only. We'll see what the final one looks like.

After a take-it-or-leave-it vote by the Senate, House Democrats face little choice but to drop more than $20 billion in domestic spending from a must-pass bill funding President Barack Obama's troop surge in Afghanistan.

The Senate rejected the House measure, passed earlier this month, by a 46-51 vote that fell short of a majority, much less the 60 votes required to defeat a filibuster.

Instead, the Senate Thursday stripped out the $20 billion in House add-ons and returned to the House an almost $60 billion measure passed by a bipartisan vote in May. The Senate measure is limited chiefly at war funding, foreign aid, medical care for Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and replenishing almost empty disaster aid accounts.

Eleven Senate Democrats and Independent Joe Lieberman of Connecticut voted against the House version of the bill. Not a single Republican supported it.

The moves repel a long-shot bid by House Democrats earlier this month to resurrect their faltering jobs agenda with $10 billion in grants to school districts to avoid teacher layoffs, $5 billion for Pell Grants to low-income college students, $1 billion for a summer jobs program and $700 million to improve security along the U.S.-Mexico border.

By: Brant

Norks Promise Nukes! Oooooh. Aaaahhh.

The Norks are now promising a nuclear retaliation to the US-SK exercises.

North Korea vowed Saturday to respond with "powerful nuclear deterrence" to joint U.S. and South Korean military exercises poised to begin this weekend, saying the drills amount to a provocation that would prompt "retaliatory sacred war."

North Korea routinely threatens war when South Korea and the U.S. hold joint military drills, which Pyongyang sees as a rehearsal for an attack on the communist North. The latest threat comes amid increased tensions on the divided peninsula over the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul and Washington blame on Pyongyang.

By: Brant