31 March 2011

Wargaming Libya?

This is just a very quick BGG search, but here are a few wargames out there with Libyan appearances. Anyone got others they'd like to suggest?

Target : Libya

Africa's 30 Year War: Chad Vs. Libya; The Toyota War

Chad: The Toyota Wars (I actually have this one, but years later still haven't gotten around to playing it...)

EDIT: here's the PDF for DVG's Libya 2011 expansion for Hornet Leader.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Civil Affairs

Afghan children talk with a soldier from 23 Pioneer Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, during a patrol near Lashkar Gah, Helmand, Afghanistan. A significant offensive operation, which takes the independence and self-sufficiency of British-trained Afghan forces to a new level, has begun in central Helmand. As the new year was seen in around the world, Afghan troops were opening a new chapter which sets the scene for their future autonomy and long-term role in the defence of their nation against extremism and terror. Operation OMID PANJ (ÔHope FiveÕ in English) follows on from the successful Operation OMID CHAR which, at the time, was the largest operation in size, number of soldiers and duration to have been planned, led and conducted by the Afghan National Army. But OMID PANJ takes things a step further, with the Afghans relying on even less support from British troops, who are present only in a supporting role. One of the key areas where significant development of Afghan capability is being demonstrated is their growing ability to find and render safe improvised explosive devices, the indiscriminate weapon of choice for the insurgency. Being conducted in the Green Zone, north of the Helmand River, the operation is pushing the Afghan governmentÕs influence and security bubble further out. By the time of its conclusion, it will see a new patrol base established east of Gereshk between the River Helmand and the Bandi Barq Road. This rural area, filled with irrigation ditches, canals and small farm plots, interspersed with residential compounds, has suffered from significant insurgent intimidation due to its proximity to smuggling routes into Gereshk city.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Today's Libyanities

How's the Libyan intervention playing in France, who championed the idea in the first place? It depends on who you ask.

In the eyes of French public opinion, Sarkozy is looking fairly good at the moment. The deeply unpopular President has experienced a small boost of approval at home and abroad due to his role in rallying risk-averse allies into staging air intervention to prevent what would have been a massacre of opponents and civilians at the hands of advancing Gaddafi troops. Sarkozy's hawkishness on Libya "is winning him applause in France today due to the universal hostility towards Gaddafi," says Karim Emile Bitar, a Middle East specialist for the Institution of International and Strategic Relations in Paris, "but that could prove short-lived for several reasons, and come back to haunt him." That's because French public opinion could quickly develop mission fatigue especially with Paris already imposing a whole array of austerities to battle the domestic budget deficit. The moral imperative to help the Libyan rebels may bog down when the French people figure the money involved is better spent at home.

A senior intelligence official in Libya has defected, and the Brits are wondering what to do with him.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Mr Koussa had resigned and the Gaddafi regime was "crumbling from within".
British officials are questioning Mr Koussa, a former head of intelligence who was close to Col Gaddafi.
The development comes as Libyan rebels continue to retreat from recently captured towns along the eastern coast.
On Thursday Mr Hague said Mr Koussa had flown to the UK of his own free will late on Wednesday.
"His resignation shows that Gaddafi's regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure and crumbling from within," he told reporters.
"Gaddafi must be asking himself who will be the next to abandon him."
Mr Hague urged others close to Col Gaddafi to "embrace the better future for Libya".

When you say there are no "ground troops" in Libya, what exactly do you mean by "ground troops".

While the White House debates whether to arm rebels battling Moammar Gadhafi's troops, U.S. officials have acknowledged that the CIA has sent small teams of operatives into Libya and helped rescue a crew member of a U.S. fighter jet that crashed.
Battlefield setbacks are hardening the U.S. view that the poorly equipped opposition probably is incapable of prevailing without decisive Western intervention, a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press.
Still, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday: "No decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any groups in Libya. We're not ruling it out or ruling it in."
The CIA's precise role in Libya is not clear. Intelligence experts said the CIA would have sent officials to make contact with the opposition and assess the strength and needs of the rebel forces in the event President Barack Obama decided to arm them.
An American official and a former U.S. intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, told the AP about the CIA's involvement in Libya after the agency was forced to close its station in Tripoli, the capital.
They said CIA helped safely recover the F-15E Strike Eagle's weapons specialist, who was first picked up by rebels after the crash March 21. The pilot was rescued by Marines.

Anyone else having flashbacks to Jack Ryan's testimony about Colombia in Clear and Present Danger?

And the Navy's latest contribution? Sending the Littoral Combat Ships to... wait for it... wait for it... San Diego! (h/t Danger Room)

With a war taking place along the Libyan coast, the newest ships the U.S. Navy has for coastline warfare are maxing and relaxing. One of the new Littoral Combat Ships, the U.S.S. Freedom, is sitting in port at San Diego, while the other, the U.S.S. Independence, is continuing its long maiden voyage to the same port, where it’ll also sit out the war. How come?

The official answer is speed. Adm. Samuel Locklear, the commander of Operation Odyssey Dawn, made the call to use naval assets he had close by, and neither the Independence or Freedom was anywhere near, says Lt. Cmdr. Justin Cole, a Navy spokesman. That meant the primary Navy weapons on hand were the expensive, tricked-out Tomahawk missiles, fired from subs and destroyers, not the LCS’ MK-110 guns, which can fire on opponents from 9 miles away.

But that just begs the real question: is the Navy’s LCS missing out on the kind of war that it was all but created to fight? The Libya mission doesn’t just involve the destruction of coastal air defenses, its arms embargo requires swift ships like the LCS (speed: 50 knots) to keep smuggled weapons out of the hands of Moammar Gadhafi’s forces.

For years, the Navy argued that it needed better capabilities for fighting close to the shore as more of the world’s population shifted to the “urban littorals,” bringing conflict with it. The $645 million Freedom arrived in the fleet in late 2008; the Navy commissioned its $704 million cousin Independence in January 2010. They’re the first of 20 more LCSs that will cost the Navy at least $450 million per ship through 2015, ahead of a total fleet of 55 speedy ships that can operate in water as shallow as 20 feet.

By: Brant

30 March 2011

Outsourcing the War in Libya?

At least someone in the US military establishment has decided to go public with the idea that we should outsource the war in Libya.

It is time to state the glaringly obvious. Without at least some boots on the ground in support of the rebels, the conflict in Libya will in all likelihood settle into a grinding stalemate. The air cover provided by the United States and a slowly growing coalition has pegged back Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces, but it will take more than air cover to ensure a rebel victory. The rebels have displayed laudable courage and enthusiasm. But they lack the basic military organization necessary to effectively tackle the weak, but better equipped and organized, government forces.

The United States, however, is rightly chary about getting sucked into another ground war, and the other contributors to the no-fly zone are even less enthusiastic. But the alternative of sustaining an expensive air campaign over an indefinite period is also unappealing.

There is a third option that seems not to have been considered but which offers real possibilities. Outsource the problem. Provide the necessary funding for the rebels to secure the services of one or more of the private companies that could supply the necessary expertise and logistical support to turn the rebel rabble into a genuine fighting force.

By: Brant

Australia In Action: SOTG on Patrol

Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan

image from Australian MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Devil's Brigade Honored With Scottish Tartan

Almost 70 years after the legendary WWII unit was disbanded, the First Special Service Force is being honored with a unique tartan in the Scottish national registry.

An elite unit of Second World War commandos with a reputation for daring and stealth that earned it the nickname The Black Devils are being honoured with the creation of an original Scottish tartan. A new tartan design will be officially filed with the Scottish national tartan registry for the First Special Service Force, a Canadian-American unit created in 1942 and disbanded after barely a year of intense warfare. The creation of the tartan is being spearheaded by the Helena, Montana-based Shining Thistle Pipe Band and the First Special Service Force Association, which represents the remaining members of the unit and their descendants. The force trained at Fort William Henry Harrison in Helena before heading into combat. "We want to not only recognize and honour them, but to hear their stories before they are lost," said Bill Woon, the executive director of the association and the son of a Canadian member of the commando unit. Woon's father, a miner and a soldier from Coldwater, Ont., was one of the 2,300 men — including 800 Canadians — that volunteered for the elite unit. Only about 1,400, including Woon's father, survived the war.

By: Shelldrake

29 March 2011

Sound Off! Speed vs Stealth

Do you want your ground units to focus on...?

Speed kills - get there first with the most!

Stealth rules - never let them see you coming!

Sound off in the comments with your thoughts!

By: Brant
President Obama's speech from the National Defense University at Fort McNair, Washington D.C. (March 28, 2011)

Part 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8iZUVXbc9go
Part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99lqfdr_OiI

Embedding was disabled, so you have to follow the links.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Libya

Libya's rebel forces closed in Monday on Moammar Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, the gateway to the western half of the country after it was targeted for the first time by international air strikes.
Witnesses in Sirte said that bombing was heard Sunday night and then again 6:30 a.m. local time, but there was no fighting in the streets or signs of rebel forces. The night before dozens of fighters loyal to Gadhafi could be seen roaming the streets.
The Libyan state news agency also reported that there had been air strikes against the southern town of Sabha, which remains strongly loyal to Gadhafi and is a major transit point for ethnic Tuareg fighters from Mali and Niger fighting for the government.

It's kind of interesting that every city in Libya is a "gateway" city on the road to Tripoli, eh?

By: Brant

28 March 2011

UK In Action: Still In The Balkans

Petrovac ranges, FYRO Macedonia: A Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle of No.1 Company, 1st Battalion, Irish Guards, joins a Challenger Main Battle Tank training on the Petrovac Ranges. No 1 Company, 1IG, formed the Armoured Infantry component of the Kings Royal Hussars Battle Group on operations in FYROM.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

President Obama to Address the US Tonight About Libya

Expect it to be televised on pretty much every network in the US, and expect predictable Republican disagreement afterwards.

Most TV networks start coverage around 730pm EDT.

By: Brant

26 March 2011

Libya A-Go-Go

So the US apparently want to add more firepower to the Libyan "intervention" or whatever "kinetic metaphor" we're using this week.

Even after a week of U.S.-led air strikes, forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi are a potent threat to civilians, say Pentagon officials who are considering expanding the firepower and airborne surveillance systems in the military campaign.
"Every day, the pressure on Gadhafi and his regime is increasing," President Barack Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, aired just after Libyan rebels regained control of the eastern city of Ajdabiya. It was the first major turnaround in an uprising that once appeared on the verge of defeat.

What, the Qataris aren't doing it for you?

Fellow Arab and African nations raised the international pressure Friday on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, with tiny Qatar flying the Arab world's first combat missions over his country and the African Union imploring him to move toward democratic elections.
The military operation against Gadhafi, which on Friday included airstrikes by British and French jets, remains a U.S.-led operation, though NATO was preparing to assume at least some command and control responsibility within days.
A Libyan government delegation meeting in Ethiopia with African leaders — but not the rebels seeking Gadhafi's ouster — said he is ready to talk with his opponents and accept political reform, possibly including elections. But the delegation also said Libya is committed to a cease-fire that Gadhafi's forces have flouted since the government announced it, and blamed the current violence on "extremists" and foreign intervention.
NATO named Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard to lead its Libyan operation, finalizing what it hopes will be a unified command to oversee military action against the North African nation.

Oh, and a free bit of advice to the rebels: if you stop celebrating so much, you'll conserve ammo.

On Saturday, rebels in Ajdabiya hauled away a captured rocket launcher and a dozen boxes of anti-aircraft ammunition, adding to their limited firepower. Later in the day, other rebels drove around and around a traffic circle, jubilantly shooting an assortment of weapons in the air — anti-aircraft weapons, AK-47s, RPGs.

Seriously... who the hell shoots an RPG in the sky to celebrate? I mean, really, what happens when that thing comes down somewhere?

By: Brant

Canucks In Charge Of Libya Mission

NATO is expected to announce that Canada will lead the mission in Libya.
Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard of Canada will take over command of the NATO mission in Libya, Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday.

NATO agreed Thursday to assume responsibility for a no-fly zone over Libya, part of a UN-backed mission to protect civilians from forces loyal to longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Bouchard has been designated to lead NATO's military campaign in Libya, MacKay told a briefing in Ottawa, noting the full scope of the NATO mission is still evolving.


Canada has committed six CF-18s to the Libya operation, and a seventh is in the area as a backup. Two CP-140 Aurora patrol planes sent to help with the mission have arrived in Italy, MacKay said from Ottawa.

In the last 24 hours, two Canadian jets successfully targeted military sites near the besieged coastal city of Misrata, MacKay said.
By: Shelldrake

Navy Christens USS Arlington

The Navy is christening the Amphibious Transport Dock Ship Arlington today.

The Navy will christen the newest amphibious transport dock ship, Arlington, Saturday, March 26, 2011, during a 10 a.m. CDT ceremony at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Miss. The ship is named for the city of Arlington, Va., honoring the 184 victims in the air and on the ground who lost their lives when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001, as well as the military and civilian employees, emergency, fire and rescue personnel of Arlington County and surrounding communities who provided critical assistance after the attack.

Arlington County Fire Chief James Schwartz, the incident commander coordinating the rescue response efforts on the ground at the Pentagon during the Sept. 11 attack, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Joyce Rumsfeld, wife of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, is the ship’s sponsor, and in accordance with Navy tradition, will break a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.

Designated LPD 24, Arlington is the eighth amphibious transport dock ship in the San Antonio class. As an element of future expeditionary strike groups, the ship will support the Marine Corps “mobility triad,” which consists of the landing craft air cushion vehicle, amphibious vehicles and the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. Arlington will provide improved warfighting capabilities, including an advanced command-and-control suite, increased lift-capability in vehicle and cargo-carrying capacity and advanced ship-survivability features. The ship is capable of embarking a landing force of up to 800 Marines.

Two previous ships have carried the name Arlington. The first was a steel-hulled C1-B type cargo ship operating during World War II. The second USS Arlington was a 14,500-ton Vietnam War era, major communications relay ship, which assisted with communications during a June 1969 conference between U.S. President Nixon and Republic of Vietnam President Thieu.

Cmdr. Darren W. Nelson of Rushville, Neb., is the prospective commanding officer and will lead a crew of 360 officers and enlisted Navy personnel and three Marines. The 24,900-ton ship is 684 feet in length, has an overall beam of 105 feet, and a navigational draft of 23 feet.

By: Brant

Who The Hell ARE We Fighting In Libya?

No seriously, what is his name? Actually, one website tracked down all the different spellings that have appeared in the media... so far.

Qaddafi, Muammar
Al-Gathafi, Muammar
al-Qadhafi, Muammar
Al Qathafi, Mu'ammar
Al Qathafi, Muammar
El Gaddafi, Moamar
El Kadhafi, Moammar
El Kazzafi, Moamer
El Qathafi, Mu'Ammar
Gadafi, Muammar
Gaddafi, Moamar
Gadhafi, Mo'ammar
Gathafi, Muammar
Ghadafi, Muammar
Ghaddafi, Muammar
Ghaddafy, Muammar
Gheddafi, Muammar
Gheddafi, Muhammar
Kadaffi, Momar
Kad'afi, Mu`amar al- 20
Kaddafi, Muamar
Kaddafi, Muammar
Kadhafi, Moammar
Kadhafi, Mouammar
Kazzafi, Moammar
Khadafy, Moammar
Khaddafi, Muammar
Moamar al-Gaddafi
Moamar el Gaddafi
Moamar El Kadhafi
Moamar Gaddafi
Moamer El Kazzafi
Mo'ammar el-Gadhafi
Moammar El Kadhafi
Mo'ammar Gadhafi
Moammar Kadhafi
Moammar Khadafy
Moammar Qudhafi
Mu`amar al-Kad'afi
Mu'amar al-Kadafi
Muamar Al-Kaddafi
Muamar Kaddafi
Muamer Gadafi
Muammar Al-Gathafi
Muammar al-Khaddafi
Mu'ammar al-Qadafi
Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi
Muammar al-Qadhafi
Mu'ammar al-Qadhdhafi
Mu`ammar al-Qadhdh?f? 50
Mu'ammar Al Qathafi
Muammar Al Qathafi
Muammar Gadafi
Muammar Gaddafi
Muammar Ghadafi
Muammar Ghaddafi
Muammar Ghaddafy
Muammar Gheddafi
Muammar Kaddafi
Muammar Khaddafi
Mu'ammar Qadafi
Muammar Qaddafi
Muammar Qadhafi
Mu'ammar Qadhdhafi
Muammar Quathafi
Mulazim Awwal Mu'ammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Qadhafi
Qadafi, Mu'ammar
Qadhafi, Muammar
Qadhdh?f?, Mu`ammar
Qathafi, Mu'Ammar el 70
Quathafi, Muammar
Qudhafi, Moammar
Moamar AI Kadafi
Maummar Gaddafi
Moamar Gadhafi
Moamer Gaddafi
Moamer Kadhafi
Moamma Gaddafi
Moammar Gaddafi
Moammar Gadhafi
Moammar Ghadafi
Moammar Khadaffy
Moammar Khaddafi
Moammar el Gadhafi
Moammer Gaddafi
Mouammer al Gaddafi
Muamar Gaddafi
Muammar Al Ghaddafi
Muammar Al Qaddafi
Muammar Al Qaddafi
Muammar El Qaddafi
Muammar Gadaffi
Muammar Gadafy
Muammar Gaddhafi
Muammar Gadhafi
Muammar Ghadaffi
Muammar Qadthafi
Muammar al Gaddafi
Muammar el Gaddafy
Muammar el Gaddafi
Muammar el Qaddafi
Muammer Gadaffi
Muammer Gaddafi
Mummar Gaddafi
Omar Al Qathafi
Omar Mouammer Al Gaddafi
Omar Muammar Al Ghaddafi
Omar Muammar Al Qaddafi
Omar Muammar Al Qathafi
Omar Muammar Gaddafi
Omar Muammar Ghaddafi
Omar al Ghaddafi

By: Brant

25 March 2011

Random Friday Wargaming: Liberty Roads

This Friday wargame goes back to WWII, but is a fantastic graphical feast for the eyes. Check out Liberty Roads!

Published by the French company Hexasim, Liberty Roads picks up at D-Day and goes forward from there.

Discuss it over at ConSimWorld.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

The Arab League and Libya

Lessee, so far the lessons of Kosovo are being ignored, as airstrikes alone have failed to push back Libyan ground forces.

Western warplanes hit Libya for a fifth night on Thursday, but so far have failed to stop Muammar Gaddafi's tanks shelling rebel-held towns or dislodge his armor from a strategic junction in the east.
Gaddafi's tanks rolled back into Misrata under the cover of darkness and began shelling the area near the main hospital, residents and rebels said, resuming their attack after their guns were silenced in daylight hours by Western airstrikes.
Government snipers in the city, Libya's third largest, were undeterred by the bombing raids though and had carried on firing indiscriminately throughout, residents said. A rebel spokesman said the snipers had killed 16 people.
"Government tanks are closing in on Misrata hospital and shelling the area," said a doctor in Misrata who was briefly reached by phone before the line was cut off.
It was impossible to independently verify the reports.
A loud explosion was heard in the Libyan capital Tripoli early on Thursday and smoke could be seen rising from an area where a military base is situated.

As the Arab League sits on the bench during the fighting. At least warm up some pom-poms and try cheerleading a little from the sidelines guys.

Except for the small Persian Gulf nation of Qatar, which is expected to start flying air patrols over Libya by this weekend, no other members of the 22-member Arab League have so far publicly committed to taking an active role. The U.S. has sold many of these countries, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, billions of dollars in sophisticated military gear over the past decade to help counter Iran's power in the region.

You might agree with more than one option on the poll, but you can only pick one. Expand on your vote in the comments if you want.

By: Brant

24 March 2011

UAV can see you breathing - I just hope it can't smell your breath.

Not entirely sure why this is better or worse than heat signatures


The Phoenix40-A is a mini-UAV with six rotors that can detect motion and breathing when searching for hidden people.

I can see a lot of usefulness in the urban disaster scenario where you are trying to find the living among the fires, but it will be interesting to see how operational testing really goes.  The idea of listening for breath sounds among the rubble and chaos of disaster just seems really hard.

By: Thug 5

UK In Action: Jackal on Patrol

A Jackal Armoured Vehicle is put through it's paces in the desert at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. The Jackal is a highly manoeuvreable Mobility Weapon-Mounted Installation Kit (MWMIK) vehicle that dramatically improves upon the adapted Land Rover WMIK previously used in theatre.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

More Cuts Coming to US Nuke Arsenal? And Readers Pick Their Targets!

The administration is reviewing the nuclear arsenal, and the targeting lists, to see if further cuts can be made.

The Obama administration has begun examining whether it can make cuts to its nuclear weapons stockpiles that go beyond those outlined in a recent treaty with Russia.
The classified review is not expected to be completed until late this year, but some Republicans already are worried that it will go too far. On Tuesday, 41 Republican senators warned Obama in a letter not to make major changes in nuclear policy without consulting Congress.
Arms control advocates say the United States is mired in Cold War-era thinking about nuclear deterrence and are pressing the administration to use the review to rethink U.S. nuclear requirements. They say the decisions will be a test of President Barack Obama's commitment nearly two years ago to put the world on a path toward eliminating nuclear weapons.
Obama ordered the nuclear review early last year with an aim of shrinking the nuclear arsenal, but the work, led by the Defense Department, began recently, according to a department spokeswoman, Lt. Col. April Cunningham.
The review will look at issues such as what targets the U.S. would have to hit with nuclear weapons in a worst-case scenario and what kind of weapons it would need to hit them. Rethinking the requirements could open the way to cuts.

Now, what would really be fun is to be in the room for that targeting exercise. If we're getting to the "worst case" then what targets might we shoot?

Nominate your targets in the comments!

By: Brant

23 March 2011

Oy Vey! Da BBC Wit' Da False Em-PHA-sis!

Really, the BBC is going down this road?

Check out this headline:

BBC News - Gaza: Children die in Israeli attack, say doctors

Read the article...

Gaza: Children die in Israeli attack, say doctors

Several Palestinians were also injured in Tuesday's attacks

Two were under 18, while four were members of the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, according to the ruling Hamas militant group.

Israel apologised for the civilian casualties but said it would defend itself against rocket fire from Gaza, which has increased in recent days.

Militants fired a barrage of mortars into Israel on Saturday.

So the headline is "Children die!"
The reality is that 2 were under 18. But 4 members of the group were from a known terror group advocating for the abolition of Israel. Not noted, however, is whether those under 18 were 17 and members of Islamic Jihad, or 7 years old and playing jumprope in a nearby parking lot.
Oh yeah, and the Israelis were returning fire against an enemy known to use human shields and set up their launchers next to schools, mosques, and hospitals.

Really, BBC? This is the best you've got?

By: Brant

Interventions in the "Arab Spring"

Everyone's watching Libya, and to an extent Yemen and Bahrain, but not many people are paying attention to Syria, where internal dissent is growing, and the Army will undoubtedly get involved.

The words have been repeated from Tunisia to Egypt, from Yemen to Bahrain. "The people want the regime to fall" - the mantra of revolution. And so, last week, after 15 kids wrote those words on a wall in the agricultural town of Dara'a in southern Syria, the local governor decided to come down hard. The young people - all under 17 - were thrown in jail. The punishment stunned the town and, suddenly, Syria - so confidently authoritarian - got its first strong taste of rebellion in what is called the Arab Spring.
Syria remains a closed and walled-off nation. But descriptions of the uprising in Dara'a were dramatic. The alleged details included dozens of young men pelting a poster - in broad daylight - of a smiling President Bashar al-Assad; a statue of his late father and predecessor Hafiz al-Assad, demolished; official buildings including the ruling Baath Party's headquarters and the governor's office burned down. "There is no fear, there is no fear, after today there is no fear!" hundreds of men chant, captured in shaky mobile phone footage allegedly taken on Monday. Over the weekend, provincial security forces opened fire on the marchers, killing several.
President Assad responded immediately. Sending a high-ranking delegation to deliver his condolences to the families of the dead. The governor was cashiered and the 15 kids released. But, according to at least two dissident websites, protesters have given the Syrian government until Friday morning to meet a list of demands relayed back to the President by his delegation. If not, they threaten that this Friday will become the "Friday of the Martyrs" not just in Dara'a and its province, Hauran, which shares a border with Jordan, but throughout the country.

George Will points out that the mission to Libya is inherently focused on regime change, no matter how it's being spun.

In Libya, mission creep began before the mission did. A no-fly zone would not accomplish what Barack Obama calls “a well-defined goal,” the “protection of civilians.” So the no-fly zone immediately became protection for aircraft conducting combat operations against Gaddafi’s ground forces.

America’s war aim is inseparable from — indeed, obviously is — destruction of that regime. So our purpose is to create a political vacuum, into which we hope — this is the “audacity of hope” as foreign policy — good things will spontaneously flow. But if Gaddafi cannot be beaten by the rebels, are we prepared to supply their military deficiencies? And if the decapitation of his regime produces what the removal of Saddam Hussein did — bloody chaos — what then are our responsibilities regarding the tribal vendettas we may have unleashed? How long are we prepared to police the partitioning of Libya?

Explaining his decision to wage war, Obama said Gaddafi has “lost the confidence of his own people and the legitimacy to lead.” Such meretricious boilerplate seems designed to anesthetize thought. When did Gaddafi lose his people’s confidence? When did he have legitimacy? American doctrine — check the Declaration of Independence — is that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. So there are always many illegitimate governments. When is it America’s duty to scrub away these blemishes on the planet? Is there a limiting principle of humanitarian interventionism? If so, would Obama take a stab at stating it?

And should the President be unilaterally approving military actions? It depends. Is he on the campaign trail or is he governing?

Obama made the assertion in a Dec. 20, 2007 interview with the Boston Globe when reporter Charlie Savage asked him under what circumstances the president would have the constitutional authority to bomb Iran without first seeking authorization from Congress.
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation,” Obama responded.

“As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States,” Obama continued. “In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch.”

By: Brant

Royal Navy Running Out Of Ammo?

So apparently the Royal Navy is almost out of Tomahawk missiles.

Defence insiders say as many as 12 of the weapons have been fired from the hunter–killer submarine Triumph in the past four days.
If this is correct, the Navy will have used up to 20 per cent of its 64 Tomahawks in the opening salvos of the war, leading to fears that it is "burning through" its armoury.
The situation could become an embarrassment for the Government if the submarine were the only vessel within range of a number of targets but could not fulfil the mission.

They've only got 64 on-hand? Seriously? That's an afternoon fire drill for the US. In the Libya mission alone, we've fired 116 or so. The Brits only have 64? Total?! Eesh. Can someone loan them a few?

By: Brant

Australia In Action: Invasion of Townsfield II

Lance Corporal Reynaldo Croon (front) and soldiers from Battle Group Samichon (Second Battalion Royal Australian Regiment) after the final live-fire assault during Exercise Hamel at the Townsville Field Training Area.

Pte Darren Sharp, Battle Group Samichon (Second Battalion Royal Australian Regiment), moving to the final objective during for the live-fire during Exercise Hamel at the Townsville Field Training Area.

A sniper from the 2nd Battalion of The Royal Australian Regiment, fires the 50 Cal Anti Material Gun - part of a live fire demonstration to visiting military personnel and Civilian VIPs during Exercise Hamel.

image from Australian MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Hamid Karzai Helps Taliban Plan Victory Parades

Seriously. It's not like they've got full control of the areas they expect to take back from foreign troops. You might as well issue the Taliban victory parade permits right now...

Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai has named seven areas of the country which will pass from control by foreign troops into Afghan hands from July.

They are the relatively peaceful provinces of Kabul, Panjshir and Bamiyan, the cities of Herat and Mazar-e Sharif and the town of Mehterlam.

But he also named Lashkar Gah, capital of the volatile Helmand province.

The handover is seen as a critical step in a transition of power before foreign troops end combat operations in 2014.

By: Brant

"Apps for the Army" Fails to Live Up to the Hype

As openly admitted by the guys trying build different smart-phone apps, the idea of apps for the Army seems to have fizzled....

Apps for the Army has not delivered game-changing mobile applications for warfighters, Army officials told an industry audience March 17.
Given the number of apps on the commercial market and the sheer size of the Army, it was tempting to assume that apps are easy to write and the Army already has personnel that could write them, said Lt. Col. Gregory Motes, chief of the mobile applications branch, Army Signal Center of Excellence & Fort Gordon. He spoke during the AFCEA DC Next-Gen Mobile Technologies Symposium.
"It turns out that wasn't true. There weren't soldiers sitting in their barracks at night writing and publishing apps to iTunes or the Android Market. And a lot of that was flushed out in the Apps for Army contest," Motes said.
"The soldiers that wrote apps for Apps for the Army, and I'm pretty sure I talked to all of them, none of them had written apps prior to the Apps for the Army challenge," he said. But the contest was nonetheless useful since it allowed the Army to assess its capability and raise interest in app development, Motes added.

By: Brant

F-15E Goes Down In Libya

As near as anyone can tell, it was a mechanical failure, and if you saw any of the footage on TV, you can tell it wasn't shot down or there wouldn't be that much fuselage left.

A U.S. Air Force fighter jet crashed in Libya after experiencing an equipment malfunction, but both crew members ejected safely and are now out of Libya and in U.S. hands, the U.S. military and a senior U.S. defense official said Tuesday.
A pilot and weapons officer aboard an F-15E Strike Eagle had flown from Aviano Air Base in Italy to Libya when the fighter experienced problems, the U.S. military command for Africa said in a statement. Both pilots ejected, the statement said.
The pilot and weapons officer suffered minor injuries but landed safely in Libya, the military said.
A U.S. military plane picked up the pilot, a senior defense official said. Libyan rebels recovered the second crew member and "took good care of him" until coalition forces "could come get him," the official said.

By: Brant

22 March 2011

Sound Off! Technology vs Reliability

What would you rather have in field?

Great technological capability, with unexpected downtime?

Limited technological capability, but with reliable availability?

Sound off in the comments with your thoughts!

By: Brant

Canada In Action: Hornets Over Libya

CF-188 Hornet fighter jets deploy in support of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) concerning the situation in Libya. The Canadian Forces is contributing six CF-188 Hornet fighter jets to participate to the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011). This contribution augments support being provided by Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Charlottetown, which is deployed in the Mediterranean Sea conducting presence and surveillance patrols with NATO’s Standing Naval Maritime Group (SNMG) 1.
Image and caption from DND

By: Shelldrake

21 March 2011

UK In Action: Ark Royal Convoy

HMS Ark Royal at the head of a convoy during Exercise Joint Warrior. She is followed by (left to right) HMS Somerset, HMS Gloucester and HMS Bulwark as they transit the Straits of Mull, Northwest Scotland. HMS Ark Royal took part in Ex Joint Warrior formerly known as the Joint Maritime Course (JMC). Ex Joint Warrior provides a multi-threat environment to facilitate a joint collective training for UK, NATO & allied units and their staffs in preparation for employment as part of a combined joint force. The navies of many other countries took part including Sweden, UK, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, New Zealand & the USA. Ark Royal played host to the Staff of Commander 24th Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON 24), Cdre Kersh, USN for the duration of the exercise.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

In Defense of Manning?

You knew someone was going to stick up for Bradley Manning. At least we can enjoy the fact that they got arrested trying to show their support.

Dozens of activists, including the man who leaked the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War, were arrested Sunday at a military base holding the US soldier suspected of leaking secret US cables, supporters said.
"It was a strong showing of a cross section of Americans who support Bradley Manning and oppose his unconstitutional confinement," said Kevin Zeese, an attorney with the Bradley Manning Support Network, in a statement.
Manning "is being selectively prosecuted, pure and simple," said Zeese.

If by "selectively prosecuted" you mean "prosecuted because he selected the option to distribute highly-classified information to illegal recipients" then yes, yes he is. And he should be.

And as far as "a strong showing of a cross section of Americans"? You have a stronger showing of a cross section of Americans on most public busses in America, given that there were only about 30 people outside Quantico at the protest. You'd have a stronger showing of a cross section of Americans in most DMV waiting rooms. You could get a stronger showing of a cross section of Americans if you gave away free ice cream and happened to do it near a protest location.

By: Brant

Other Protests Where We're *Not* Paying Attention

Not only is the government of Yemen gunning down their own citizens in the streets, but the leadership is starting to defect to the opposition.

Three army commanders, including a top general, defected Monday to the opposition calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to step down as army tanks and armored vehicles deployed in the streets of the Yemeni capital.
The most senior of the three officers is Maj. Gen. Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar, a longtime confidante of Saleh and commander of the army's powerful 1st Armored Division. Units of the division deployed Monday in a major square in Sanaa where protesters have been camping out to call for Saleh to step down.
All three officers belong to Saleh's Hashid tribe, which called on Saleh to step down on Sunday — dealing his desperate attempts to cling on to power a serious blow.
The two others are Mohammed Ali Mohsen and Hameed al-Qusaibi, who both have the rank of brigadier.
News of the defections came one day after crowds flooded cities and towns across Yemen to mourn dozens of protesters killed Friday when Saleh's security forces opened fire from rooftops on a demonstration in Sanaa.

More detail about Yemen.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

20 March 2011

Next Two LCS Ships ID'ed

The Navy has named the next two members of the LCS fleet after a pair of Midwest US cities.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today that the next two Freedom-class littoral combat ships (LCS) to be built in Wisconsin will be named the USS Milwaukee and the USS Detroit.

These two ships are part of a dual block buy of LCS class ships announced by Mabus in December 2010. By procuring both versions of the LCS – Lockheed Martin’s semiplaning monohull and General Dynamic’s aluminum trimaran – the Navy can stabilize the LCS program and the industrial base with an award of 20 ships; increase ship procurement rate to support operational requirements; sustain competition through the program; and enhance foreign military sales opportunities. Both designs meet the Navy’s LCS requirement. However, the diversity provided by two designs provides operational flexibility.

Milwaukee and Detroit will be designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in the coastal waters. A fast, agile surface combatant, the LCS provides the required war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions close to the shore such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.

The Milwaukee and Detroit will be 378 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 57 feet, displace approximately 3,000 tons, and will make speed in excess of 40 knots.

Construction of Milwaukee and Detroit will be by a Lockheed Martin led industry team in Marinette, Wis.

The selection of Milwaukee, designated LCS 5, honors the city’s citizens and their continued support to our nation’s military. Milwaukee has been a city of national pride since its official founding in 1846. This makes the sixth ship to bear the city’s name.

The selection of Detroit, designated LCS 7, honors the citizens of the Motor City and their ongoing patriotic spirit and military support. Detroit is a major port city on the Detroit River in the state of Michigan. It was founded on July 24, 1701. Detroit is the seventh ship to bear the city’s name.

By: Brant

19 March 2011

NEWS: No-Fly Zone Now Being Enforced - UPDATED


Multiple nations are now involved in air & missile strikes against Libya, including US warships.

More than 110 Tomahawk missiles fired from American and British ships and submarines hit about 20 Libyan air and missile defense targets in western portions of the country, U.S. Vice Adm. William Gortney said at a Pentagon briefing.
The U.S. will conduct a damage assessment of the sites, which include SA-5 missiles and communications facilities. A senior U.S. military official, who was not authorized to speak on the record, said the cruise missiles, which fly close to the ground or sea at about 550 miles per hour, landed near Misrata and Tripoli, the capital and Gadhafi's stronghold.
Gadhafi responds to air strikes Warplane falls from sky
Gallery: Civil war in Libya
The salvo, in an operation dubbed "Odyssey Dawn," was meant "to deny the Libyan regime from using force against its own people," said Gortney, who declined to detail future operations.


The French are engaging ground targets.

French warplanes have hit four tanks used by forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi on the outskirts of the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, on a day when opposition fighters in the city reported coming under constant artillery and mortar fire.

The action marks the first international military move against the Libyan leader, and it comes a day after the UN Security Council authorised a no-fly zone over the North African country.

A spokesman for the French military had confirmed that his country's fighter jets have attacked another vehicle belonging to Gaddafi's forces.

"The vehicle was clearly identified as being enemy," army spokesman Colonel Thierry Burckhard said after the first UN-mandated air strike, describing the target as "a vehicle that was threatening the civilian population".

Earlier on Saturday, pro-government forces had entered the western outskirts of the city, while French Rafale and Mirage fighter jets began reconnaissance overflights of "all Libyan territory".

Ahmad Shabani, a spokesman for the Libyan opposition's national council, told Al Jazeera the opposition was heartened by the move.

"We are very happy about that, hopefully it's not late... and hopefully it makes a difference," he said.

Witnesses in Bengazi, in the east of the country, said they heard large explosions on Saturday. Al Jazeera's correspondents in the city reported multiple explosions, plumes of smoke in the sky and a fighter jet belonging to the opposition getting shot down

The French are patrolling the skies over Benghazi.

French fighter jets soared over a rebel-held city besieged by Moammar Gadhafi's troops on Saturday, the first mission for an international military force launched in support of the 5-week-old uprising against the Libyan leader's rule.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after an emergency summit in Paris that French jets were already targeting Gadhafi's forces. The 22 participants in Saturday's summit "agreed to put in place all the means necessary, in particular military" to make Gadhafi respect a U.N. Security Council resolution Thursday demanding a cease-fire, Sarkozy said.
Gadhafi had tried to take advantage of the time lag betwen the U.N. resolution and the launch of the international operation, making a decisive strike on the Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city and the first major stronghold of the rebellion. Crashing shells shook buildings, and the sounds of battle drew closer to the city center as its residents despaired. A doctor said 27 bodies were brought to the hospital by midday. By late in the day, warplanes could be heard overhead.
"Our planes are blocking the air attacks on the city" of Benghazi, he said, without elaborating. French planes have been readying for an attack in recent days.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

Norks Invade US; Teenagers Fight Back!

At least, that seems to be the premise of the new Red Dawn remake

MGM is changing the villains in its Red Dawn remake from Chinese to North Korean to keep friendly with the rising Asian superpower, including its lucrative box office for American movies.

Filmed in 2009, Red Dawn centers on a World War III type invasion onto American soil of a foreign country. The original pitted the U.S. against the Soviets, the remake filmed the invaders as the Chinese.

We'd hate to piss off the Chinese monetary overlords, eh?
And the original was not just the US vs the Soviets, as they had East Germans, Afghanistanians, and Cubans, too. In fact, the lead 'policeman' on the 'Russian' side was the Cuban guy.

By: Brant

US Naval Forces Currently in the Med

The US is rotating warships in the Med. (See earlier story: GrogNews: US Navy Ships Entering the Med Carrying the Marines)

The United States is deploying additional warships to the Mediterranean to support possible United Nations-approved military action in Libya, the US Navy said Friday.
The USS Bataan, a helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ship, and two other vessels were deployed ahead of schedule, the navy said after the UN Security Council approved action to stop Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's offensive against rebels.
The Bataan will relieve the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge and the transport docking ship USS Ponce, which have been in the Mediterranean for several weeks.
The Bataan has a fleet of helicopters and medical facilities that can be used to treat injured military forces or for humanitarian missions. The ship has six operating rooms and hospital facilities for up to 600 patients.
It is scheduled to depart from the state of Virginia on Wednesday along with the Mesa Verde, a transport dock ship, and the USS Whidbey Island, a dock landing ship.

Also in the Med are the USS Barry and the USS Stout.

By: Brant

18 March 2011

Humor: RTT CQB Man

These two very funny videos are a couple of years old, but I just discovered them recently. I really enjoyed the handy tips on re-loading and clearing malfunctions, so you can get in the primary, slayin' bodies, good-ta-go!

RTT-CQB Man, Episode 1

RTT-CQB Man, Episode 2

By: Guardian

edited by Brant to embed the videos

Random Friday Wargaming: Dawn's Early Light

OK, going a bit 'homer' here, and pimping a fantastic game by a friend that I got to play back when it was still in playtest mode. I love this game.

Corps Command: Dawn's Early Light at BoardGameGeek

The Consimworld board is combined with the first "Corps Command" game, and filed under WWII series.

The product page over at Lock'n'Load Publishing is a graphical feast for the eyes.

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

New Life for the MICLIC

It's being reinvented as an IED eraser.

"We are here to rebuild, but sometimes that takes destruction," said Capt. Matthew Peterson, a company commander whose Marines were tasked in late December with clearing a key part of southern Helmand province's Sangin district — the most dangerous place for coalition troops in Afghanistan last year.
The Marines have used a much more aggressive strategy in Sangin than British troops who were there for four years before the U.S. took over. The contrast has sparked debate both inside and outside Afghanistan.
One of the key goals in the December operation in an area called Wishtan was clearing bombs from the main road to allow the Marines to maneuver freely and locals to go to the central bazaar without fear of being blown up.
The Marines used a powerful weapon called a MICLIC — Mine Clearing Line Charge — that is essentially a flexible tube several hundred feet (meters) long containing more than 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms) of C-4 explosive that is shot out along the road using a rocket, then detonated.
At least 25 bombs were destroyed and the Marines were able to clear the 3,000-foot (900-meter) long road in three days, but the blasts from the charges blew out windows, toppled walls and collapsed ceilings in the densely packed mud compounds that fill the area.

The rest of the article details how the Marines are going out rebuilding...

By: Brant

War Over Libya?

The UN has approved a no-fly zone in Libya.

Joyous Libyan rebels in Benghazi erupted with fireworks and gunfire after the U.N. Security Council voted Thursday evening to impose a no-fly zone and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians.
The opposition, with devoted but largely untrained and underequipped units, has suffered military setbacks this week. It has said such international action was necessary for it to have any chance of thwarting Moammar Gadhafi's imminent assault on the rebel stronghold.
"We're hoping and praying that the United Nations will come up with a very firm and very fast resolution and they will enforce it immediately," said Ahmed El-Gallal, a senior opposition coordinator, before the vote.
"We should not arrive too late," French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said at the U.N.
UN approves no-fly zone in Libya Libyan army pushes forward Libyan amb. still hopeful for airstrikes Frustration and anger in Benghazi
The resolution was approved with 10 votes, including those of the United States and the United Kingdom.
There were no opposing votes on the 15-member council, but China, Russia, Germany, India and Brazil abstained. Germany said it was concerned about a protracted military conflict.

We know why China & Russia abstained. Germany seems sorta-kinda-back-home-I'll-take-a-hit-for-this-explained. But India? Brazil? WTF? What are you guys thinking?

By: Brant

17 March 2011

Word Association: A Fun BGG Poll

FoGN Andrew Heath (AKA "Shad" to the WGer crowd) has a fun little word association poll over at BoardGameGeek. You'll at least get a chuckle.


By: Brant

UK In Action: Harriers to the Nines

Nine Royal Air Force Harrier GR7s take part in a flypast to mark the creation of Number 4 (Reserve) Squadron at Royal Air Force Wittering, taking over from Number 20 (Reserve) Squadron as the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit. As part of the Joint Force Harrier, these extremely versatile aircraft are ready to deploy anywhere in the world, either on board Royal Navy aircraft carriers or to shore bases. The aircraft are usually employed in direct support of ground troops but can also be equipped with a pod fitted with cameras to provide reconnaissance of the target and battle areas. This image was a winner for SAC James Stier in the 2010 RAF Photographic Competition.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Beyond Trivial

I don't ever, ever want to hear anyone ever tell me that some odd/esoteric subject that I enjoy exploring is in any way weird, wacky, off-the-wall, useless, pointless, or just too damn obscure. Not when this is on the market. Yes, it's a real book.

I don't know what's worse, that there are 288 pages of this crap, or that there are actual recommendations for "people who bought this book also bought ____", indicating that someone actually bought this. Oy.

By: Brant

Cracked.com Cracks Us Up Again

Cracked.com's countdowns are a riot. This one, about the 6 Most Ingenious Misuses of Military Hardware is both funny and topical for GN!

Our favorite? Rocketmail. And we don't mean the old free webmail service, either... We're talking about Rocketmail.

Cruise missiles were once used to deliver the mail. It was Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield who proposed the most logical solution to America's apparently cripplingly slow mail problem in the late 1950s. He was the first man who dared to ask: "Trains? Wait, why don't we just rocket that shit?"

Taking time out from its busy schedule of threatening communism and looking like a big metal dong, the Regulus missile was drafted by Summerfield to deliver the post ... from a submarine in the middle of the ocean. Wait -- why a submarine, and not just a boat? It's like they're just adding shit at this point because it sounds cool.

The United States Postal Service, in what was certainly its first and possibly its last dabble in explosive awesomeness, saw no significant problem with the plan. It took the USS Barbero out into the Atlantic and fired a cruise missile straight at a major population center -- all in order to deliver about 3,000 letters.

The whole operation was inexplicably declared a success. They delivered the water bill with a rocket, and everybody agreed that was exactly what needed to happen. Summerfield himself was quoted as saying this was "of historic significance to the peoples of the entire world" and that "before man reaches the moon, mail will be delivered within hours from New York to California, to England, to India or to Australia by guided missiles." And in a way, he was right: We did find a way to deliver mail with improbable speed; we just did it with 1s and 0s instead of flaming, hurtling cruise missiles.

Nobody's saying we chose wisely, here.

By: Brant

16 March 2011

Australia In Action: ANA Joint Actions

Afghan National Army soldiers and Australian Capt. Jason Mildone, 2nd in command Engineer Squadron, Mentoring Task Force 2, work together at the construction site of a new ANA patrol base inn the Uruzgan Province of Afghanistan Nov. 13.

Some of the weapons, explosives and other materials used to manufacture Improvised Explosive Devices that were uncoverd by Afghan National Army soldiers during Operation Sur Gurabe (Operation Boston).

An illumination round, provided by Afghan Artillery, illuminates the ground in front an Australian position they provide overwatch the Afghan National Army engineers building a new patrol base in the West Dorafshan region of Uruzgan province in Afghanistan during Operation Sur Gurabe (operation Boston).

Soldiers warm themselves by a fire as they provide overwatch the Afghan National Army engineers building a new patrol base in the West Dorafshan region of Uruzgan province in Afghanistan during Operation Sur Gurabe (Operation Boston).

image from Australian MoD

By: Widow 6-7

How Much for "Intelligence"?

The DoD has released the "top line" budget for the past three fiscal years.

The Department of Defense released today the military intelligence program (MIP) appropriated top line budgets for fiscal 2007, 2008, and 2009. The totals, which include both the base budget and supplemental appropriations, are $20.0 billion for fiscal 2007, $22.9 billion for fiscal 2008, and $26.4 billion for fiscal 2009.

The secretary of defense previously approved the public release of the $27.0 billion FY 2010 MIP appropriated top line. The department determined that releasing these top line figures do not jeopardize any classified activities within the MIP. No other MIP budget figures or program details will be released, as they remain classified for national security reasons.

By: Brant

15 March 2011

Sound Off! Canada vs Australia

OK guys, state your case for the better military heritage


Sound off in the comments with your thoughts! Yes, you too, Shelldrake :)

(edit: for you first-time/only-occasional visitors, you can click on the label at the bottom of the post to be taken to other Sound Off! posts - we do this every Tuesday)

By: Brant

UK in Action: One Shot, Two Kills

This excellent story from The Guardian about a Royal Army sniper team in Afghanistan's Helmand province is well worth reading, especially since it features a "one shot, two kills" engagement. I won't spoil the surprise about how they did it.

By: Guardian

14 March 2011

UK In Action: Can You Hear Me Now? Good!

International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Command Network (ICN) Team set up an 117F Radio in the Tactical Satellite (Tac SAT) role, on TV Hill, Kabul. A member of the ICN team, Signals Support Group tests the equipment.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Designing Out Loud - Missions / Execution

So I've been thinking about the way missions and operations would get allocated, both friendly and enemy.

Each player will pick a operations card, from a set of matched cards.
Player 1 chooses a card that could match up with Operations Profile A, C, D, or F
Player 2 has to choose a operations card that matches up with one or more of those.
One of the key constraints here will be map layout.

Each operations card will have 2 sides, one that faces the player and one that faces the opponent.

The side facing the player will specify the available forces, commander options, maneuver options and constraints (can't leave a gap in the lines, must deploy scouts/recon in "x" direction, etc) that replicate things such as doctrinal constraints and the mission/instructions from higher HQ. This side of the operations card will also specify VPs for hitting certain objectives, such as recon objectives, or terrain/enemy-focused objectives. It will also specify the starting command point allotment, and may even specify certain command point costs for particular missions/tasks.

The side facing the opponent will offer some general facts about the unit, such as general profile of what your battalion would normally have per MTOE, and some basic known doctrinal expectations. This allows your opponent to put his recon/intel focus to use by having a doctrinal template against which to plan.
This is a normal practice in the military, but almost never replicated in tabletop gaming because there are almost never doctrinal constraints put on the player to behave in accordance with the way commanders in those armies are trained. Although these forces are loosely based on real unit types, they are *not* attempts at full doctrinal accuracy.

So, during Phase I, you may have specific constraints on the numbers of units that can move, or where they can move, while your recon gathers info to complete your preparations.
During Phase II you may have some requirements to execute, such as taking a piece of terrain, or a killing a particular combination of units. You can adjust your planned tasks/missions based on the info you developed during Phase I and move forward from there.


By: Brant

13 March 2011

The State Department Redefines "Stupid" - UPDATED

Wow... did a State Department spokesman really call the DoD's treatment of Bradley Manning"stupid"?!

The US treatment of the man accused of leaking secret cables to Wikileaks is "ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid", US state department spokesman PJ Crowley has said.

Mr Crowley made the remarks about Bradley Manning to an audience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lemme tell you what's stupid: being a whiny, self-centered, attention-seeking PFC in a job you don't like but on which people to depend to stay alive, and deciding to stick it to "the man" by splashing classified cables all over the world's media like you're some sort of political savior.

Hey State Department - get with the program. Your dirty laundry is flapping in the breeze, too.


Crowley is out.

Chief State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley quit on Sunday after causing a stir by describing the Army's treatment of the suspected WikiLeaks leaker as "ridiculous" and "stupid," pointed words that forced President Barack Obama to defend the detention as appropriate.
"Given the impact of my remarks, for which I take full responsibility, I have submitted my resignation" to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to a department statement attributed to the office of the spokesman. In a separate statement released simultaneously, Clinton said she had accepted the resignation "with regret."
Crowley's comments about the conditions for Pfc. Bradley Manning at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., reverberated quickly, from the small audience in Massachusetts where Crowley spoke, to a White House news conference Friday where Obama was asked to weigh in on the treatment of the 23-year-old believed responsible for the largest leak of classified American documents ever.
Manning is being held in solitary confinement for all but an hour every day, and is stripped naked each night and given a suicide-proof smock to wear to bed. His lawyer calls the treatment degrading. Amnesty International says the treatment may violate Manning's human rights.
Crowley, who retired as colonel from the Air Force in 1999 after 26 years in the military, was quoted as telling students at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology seminar on Thursday that he didn't understand why the military was handling Manning's detention that way, and calling it "ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid." Crowley also said "Manning is in the right place" in military detention.

By: Brant

Order of Battle: 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade

Ft Polk recently re-org'ed several units. One of these is the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.


88th Brigade Support Battalion (Muleskinners)
-- HHD / 88th BSB
-- A CO / 88th BSB (QM/Supply)
-- B CO / 88th BSB (Maint)
-- 337th Signal Company
-- 383rd MCT Company
-- 546th Transportation Company
-- 603rd Transportation Company

46th Engineer Battalion
-- detailed unit breakdown not available

519th Military Police Battalion
-- HHD
-- 204th Military Police Company
-- 258th Military Police Company
-- 209th Military Police Company
-- 272nd Military Police Company
-- 91st Military Police Company

83rd Chemical Battalion (from the 48th CM BDE) (CBRNE BN)
-- HHD
-- 7th Chemical Company
-- 21st Chemical Company
-- 51st Chemical Company
-- 101st Chemical Company

By: Brant

85-year-old Sniper's Still Got It

A US Army WWII veteran was given a chance to check out the new US Army sniper rifle, and plinked a target at 1000m. Oof.

More photos/videos at the link.

He may be 85 years old, but when Army sniper veteran Ted Gundy was given the chance to show off the skills he used in World War Two, he proved he could still keep up with the very best.
That’s because he was invited to try out the Army’s latest technology in a challenge to hit a target a whopping 1,000 yards away.
But the former member of the Missouri honour guard, stepped up to the challenge with an extremely level head.

It was then that the officers taught him how the Army’s custom made Remington 700 works and explained how a 1,000 yard shot can be achieved.
It involves a second sniper, called a spotter, judging the wind direction and any other conditions that could affect the bullet’s trajectory.
Mr Gundy, who lives in Memphis, Missouri, said before the shot: ‘I couldn’t even dream in a thousand years how you would even see the target, yet alone hit it.

By: Brant

Maps: Europe in the 1800s, a Treasure Trove!

Wow. I mean, really, WOW.

Go check out this online atlas you can leaf through, and see a collections of maps of Europe in the 1800s. The main maps start around page 15 or so. Back up 2 pages for a diagram of military fortifications and map symbols. Daddy like!

edit: here's a link to high-res single pages. Daddy like more!

By: Brant

12 March 2011

The Wargame Lab over at BayonetGames

Here's all the different game projects I currently have on my plate, in varying stages of development. What I wouldn't give for sufficient full-time funding to just get these bastards finished!

  • Warfighter: Asian Thunder (scenario testing and need to fund it to go to press)
  • Next Wars I: Orange Crush (scenario testing and tweaking some basic rules, need to fund it to go to press)
  • "Designing Out Loud" project on here on GrogNews (next episode this week!), a Euro-flavored card wargame
  • Next Wars II: The Project That Shall Not Be Named, in initial draft stage with early orbats/maps, built off same ruleset
  • The Modern Quick & Dirty games (working title: Meeting Engagements), inspired by the old SPI ModQuads, designed to be built off same rules but with varying particulars, currently looking at 6 (yes, 6!) titles: England's Emergencies, Invasion '83, Blood Red Borders, War In The Clouds, Brushfires, Holy Wars... right now the early drafts of maps/counters being put together and some early rules notes sketched out
  • Bandits! Been lingering for a while, but a basic idea built around a Euro/Ameritrash game not unlike Runebound for the gaslight & flintlock era
  • Castles & Kings: started out as using chess pieces on a Risk map, but now modified to include some card actions that allow for kingdom building as well. Starting to incorporate ideas from Dominion and 7 Wonders (two games I really like) to build on the older civ-flavored mechanics. High hopes for this one, but a LOT of moving parts to balance. Draft of card mechanics and combat being kicked around right now and may get table-tested soon.
  • The Investigation Engine: started out as using a dominoes-style mechanic to "connect the dots" in either an intel scenario or law enforcement, as you try to unravel a conspiracy of people by figuring out who's connected to who; been lingering forever, and will have to revisit it sometime
Wow... that's a shitload of stuff I wish I could just spend all day working on. If only I had a real job to afford the luxury, eh? By: Brant

IARPA's Own Cognitive Bias

So here are three slides from the recent IARPA proposer's day conference on their new Sirius program. They're wanting to creating some training games for helping analysts combat cognitive biases that may affect their analytical product. So far, so good.

Here's a brief intro to cognitive bias, as IARPA sees is (click to enlarge images)

Note the first two bullets: "simple, fast, heuristic decision rules" that can "bias general problem-solving in ways that can produce erroneous results". Why is their description of a cognitive bias here all that important?

Check out their definition of a serious game:
Hmmmmm....  seems to me we were playing games long before we were plugging game-playing mechanisms into the wall.  Why are "Serious Games" limited to "Videogames"?  Kriegspiel - arguably the first serious game - was invented over 250 years ago and was being used by the Prussian General Staff well before electricity was harnessed enough to power an Xbox.

You don't suppose someone at IARPA has a cognitive bias at play here, do you?  They hear the word "game" and immediately assume it includes a power cord?

I wonder how they're combatting that bias?  Maybe they should invent some training games for combatting cognitive biases?

And here's your irony...  in a slide entitled "Sirius Technology Constraints" they specify a variety of technology minimums, and specifically rule out the least technological of all: board and table-top games.
Now, they may have ruled those out for delivery reasons - easier to play with an AI or in mutli-location mode through a digital mechanism, and digits can enable a wider variety of adjudication mechanisms, depending on implementation.  But those reasons aren't enumerated and given the earlier obvious cognitive bias in favor of Videogames über alles, it's not a surprise they ruled board and table-top games out of scope.

If you're interested in some more info on the presentation, you can find the entire slide deck here. (PDF)
The full solicitation page from IARPA is here.

By: Brant

11 March 2011

Random Friday Wargaming: The Russo-Georgian War of 2008

This week's game is one of the most recent current event games.

The Russo-Georgian War of 2008 at BoardGameGeek

It's a DTP game, but it's still quite nifty... Check out the master page at Russo-Georgian war of 2008 - Schutze Games.

Discuss over at ConsimWorld, the Russo-Georgian War of 2008

Master links/images from Boardgamegeek.com; message boards linked to Consimworld. Other links to the actual game pages...

By: Brant

Military Maps: MAR '11 ISAF Placemat

click to enlarge

By: Brant

10 March 2011

UK In Action: The Nose Knows

An Army dog handler is pictured with his charge 'Vaske' during an IED search exercise near Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

09 March 2011

Some Thoughts on Game-Based Training

I had posted this elsewhere, but I wanted to drop this over here on the off-chance that it might accidentally inspire the occasional random comment or two. Maybe.

The key with using the games for training is whether or not you have a facilitator who can keep the adjudication moving at a pace that forces a realistic decision cycle on the participants (assuming you have their decisions being made at the right echelon - another discussion altogether).

That adjudication can be man-in-the-loop, it can be all-digits, it can be a puckster interacting with the digits for you, it can be someone who knows how to play the tabletop game that tells the players which dice to roll, or it can be a group of guys who know the game well enough to run the CRT themselves. Whatever mechanism you choose, though, you need to make sure that it can move at an appropriate pace that the participants are making decisions at the speed you want them to for the training event.

This is where computers really shine compared to their analog counterparts - the speed of presentation at the single-man level is far superior in the digital world, but may be wholly unnecessary (or even inappropriate) for a division staff.

By: Brant

Australia In Action: Invasion of Townsfield

An Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) from Darwin based 1st Brigade during Exercise Hamel at the Townsville Field Training Area.

The Main Battle Tank, the M1 Abrahms, from the 1st Armoured Regiment kicks up dust during Exercise Hamel at the Townsville Field Training Area.

Army Black Hawks provide air mobility for Battle Group Kapyong (Third Battalion Royal Australian Regiment) during Exercise Hamel at the Townsville Field Training Area.

image from Australian MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Piss-Poor Editing That Never Should've Happened

Seriously. Look, I'm sure that Steve Szkotak is a perfectly good journalist, but we're talking about a major gaffe here that never should've escaped his word processor, never mind slipping past the editor.

according to Col. Daniel T. Williams, a spokesman for the Army's Document and Training Command

"Document and Training Command"? Really?

Look, dude, it's easy - damn easy - to find the right answer. TRADOC website


That's not ignorance - I don't expect most journalists to have the right answers about the military like this - but it's worse. It's laziness. And that should be hammered.

By: Brant