31 May 2012

Army's New Ground Combat Vehicle Contract. Yes, Again.

Some excellent background on how we got where we are today.

The GCV Infantry Fighting Vehicle is not a simple competition among existing vehicle types, though the global armored vehicle industry could easily have offered that. Instead, it was decided to run GCV as a clean sheet design for a new armored vehicle that would incorporate all of the lessons learned in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.

“All” can be a dangerous goal for a military that needs on-time, on-budget, reasonably priced solutions. The initial GCV RFP resulted in design submissions that were reportedly in the 60-70 ton range. That’s almost double the weight of a 33 ton Bradley family vehicle, or of new designs like Korea’s K-21 KNIFV; and 50% higher than even heavy IFVs like Germany’s Puma and Britain’s FRES-SV. Indeed, it’s equivalent to a heavy main battle tank like the M1 Abrams.

The August 2010 GCV RFP cancellation resulted in a new RFP that emphasized use of “mature” technologies, but didn’t change some of the key requirements driving issues like weight, size and cost. Nor did it change the Army’s insistence on big performance increases in a number of areas.

Under the terms of its revised RFP, the GCV Program is driven to achieve a set of primary imperatives called the “Big Four”. These “Big Four” imperatives are defined as follows:

- Force Protection: Including protection against IED land mines. This is not a traditional strength of tracked vehicles lighter than main battle tanks, due to their flat bottoms.
- Capacity: vehicle crew and a fully-equipped 9 soldier Infantry squad. That’s relatively large. The Bradley carries just 6, and survivability needs and “space under armor” are the 2 requirement sets that do the most to determine vehicle size and weight. Which in turn affect costs.
- Full Spectrum: “A versatile platform able to adapt and/or enhance capabilities through configuration changes of armor and network while providing for growth over time in terms of size, weight, power and cooling.” This has been a steady trend in current IFVs over time, including the Bradley.
- Timing: A design that can have the 1st production vehicle delivered and accepted within 7 years of the TD phase contract award.
Under the revised September 2010 RFP, some requirements were “Tier 1”: specifically defined, and must be met. Tier 2 and Tier 3 requirements must be addressed, but the vendors are responsible for making tradeoffs among them. Vendors that DID talked to believe this left the Army with better solutions than they would otherwise have received.

Much more at the link. Go read.

By: Brant


-- quick and dirty words of wisdom collected over the years --

Never give a speech without a point. Cheerleading at an OPORD when everyone's been up all night is pointless and counterproductive. It make everyone less likely to listen to you because they'll lump it all in with self-agrandizement.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

UK In Action: Damn, It's Cold

A Royal Navy Submariner shovels ice from the upper deck of HMS Tireless within the North Polar Ice Cap. The Trafalgar Class submarine was taking part in operation ICEX 2007, conducting classified testing on submarine operability and war fighting capabilities in the Arctic waters.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

"Clarification" About SOF-Nork Remarks?

BG Tolley has "clarified" his statement about US/ROK SOF north of the border.

On Wednesday, Tolley offered his take.

“After further review of the reporting, I feel I was accurately quoted,” he said. “In my attempt to explain where technology could help us, I spoke in the present tense. I realize I wasn’t clear in how I presented my remarks.”

He insisted, however, that the United States has at no time sent special operations forces into North Korea.

Such cross-border operations into North Korea would be in violation of the 1953 armistice agreement that brought the Korean War to an end.

The existence of such operations would also jeopardize already strained and sensitive relations between Washington and Pyongyang.

By: Brant

30 May 2012

GameTalk - Solo Gaming

What are the key design elements that need togo into a solo game? What's the best way to control the "AI" in a solo boardgame? How do you realistically portray the actions of your opponent when no true opponent exists?

By: Brant

29 May 2012

Sound Off! Administration and Hierarchy

We're re-running this one because it actually got no comments last time it was up.

Should civilians be in decision-making positions within the military hierarchy? Why not put "deputy assistant secretaries of personnel and recruitment" in uniform instead of business suits? Conversely, why not put division G4 folks in civvies instead of cammies?

Where should the lines be drawn on uniforms and civilians?

By: Brant

Another Syrian Massacre - This One Far More Intentional

With over 100 dead, and most of them shot in their houses, there's no way for Syria to dodge this one.

"I believe at this point, and I would stress we are at very preliminary stages, that under 20 of the 108 can be attributed to artillery and tank fire," he told a news briefing in Geneva.
Some 49 children and 34 women were among the known victims, but the toll was not definitive, he said, adding: "There are reports of more deaths."
"Almost half of the ones we know of so far are children - that is totally unpardonable - and a very large number of women as well," Colville said.
"At this point it looks like entire families were shot in their houses."

The problem is, what do you do about it? Do you put boots on the ground? Bomb people? Sanctions won't work because there's no way to cut off the country's borders. What courses of action are there for dealing with Syria?

By: Brant

US Troops On The Ground in North Korea?

The commander of SOF-Korea admits that we’ve sent troops into North Korea.

“At no time have SOF [Special Operations] forces been sent to the north to conduct special reconnaissance,” said the United States Forces Korea.

U.S. Army Gen. Neil Tolley, commander of U.S. Special Operations Forces in South Korea, told an audience in Tampa that U.S. and South Korean forces have been sent into North Korea to spy on the communist country’s vast collection of underground tunnels and military installations.

The extraordinary admission, which went unreported by U.S. media, came on May 22 during the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference. Tolley said his command has identified 20 airfields and 180 munitions factories that are partially underground, along with thousands of subterranean artillery positions.

“The entire tunnel infrastructure is hidden from our satellites,” Tolley added, according a report published Monday by The Diplomat, a Japan-based foreign affairs magazine.

“So we send ROK [Republic of Korea] soldiers and U.S. soldiers to the North to do special reconnaissance.”


I do like this line from him:

The brigadier general appeared on a panel with his counterparts from the much larger African, European, Pacific and Southern commands. But the comparatively tiny region he oversees, he said, is nothing to sneeze at.

“We have only two countries and one time zone,” he explained, “but what we lack in size we make up for in kilotons of evil.”

So how do you incorporate this sort of recon into a game like Decision's DMZ or GMT's Next War: Korea?

The denials from USFK were swift and unequivocal.

A spokesman for US forces in South Korea subsequently dismissed the media report.
"Some reporting has taken great liberal licence with his comments and taken him completely out of context," Colonel Jonathan Withington, of the public affairs office of US Forces Korea, said in a statement.
"No US or ROK (Republic of Korea) forces have parachuted into North Korea," he said. "Though special reconnaissance is a core special operations force mission, at no time have SOF forces been sent to the north to conduct special reconnaissance.
"The use of tunnels in North Korea is well documented," he added. "Several of the known tunnels along the DMZ are visited by tourists every day."

By: Brant

28 May 2012

Monday Video: Taps

By: Brant

UK In Action: Patroling Kosovo

Locals pass a Saxon patrol of the Royal Irish Regiment.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

27 May 2012

Sharia State Coming in Mali?

Two major rebel fronts in Mali have agreed to form a Sharia state in Northern Mali.

Two rebel groups that seized northern Mali two months ago have agreed to merge and turn their territory into an Islamist state, both sides say.

The Tuareg MNLA, a secular rebel group, and the Islamist group Ansar Dine signed the deal in the town of Gao, spokespeople said.

Ansar Dine, which has ties to al-Qaeda, has already begun to impose Sharia law in some towns.

The groups took advantage of a coup in March to seize the territory.

Correspondents say the deal is yet another worrying development for Mali and may complicate efforts to stabilise the country.

By: Brant

26 May 2012

COTS Networking Gets Military Workout

The Economist takes a quick trip to Ft Bliss to look into the current NIE.

It has been three weeks since the Ellisian army invaded next-door Attica. The United States, Attica’s ally, quickly deployed troops to help re-establish the international border, and had advanced more than 50 miles by May 16th.

The mission, however, was not an easy one. As well as facing rugged terrain and extreme weather, the American soldiers and Attican security forces had to contend with the radical Islamic Congress of Attica, the transnational Islamic Brotherhood for Jihad, the malicious hackers of the Wolf Brigade and the petty criminals of the area. Thank heaven it was, in fact, a staged exercise, running from Fort Bliss, in west Texas, through to the White Sands missile range, an army base in New Mexico. Some 3,800 soldiers and several thousand military and civilian personnel were taking part in this spring’s Network Integration Evaluation (NIE), the third round of a new twice-yearly series of exercises. Their point is to test how well fancy new mapping and messaging systems would stand up to the stresses of conflict in harsh conditions.

By: Brant

25 May 2012

Random Friday Wargaming: The Falklands War

30 years ago today, Gareth Parry filed this report with the Guardian from the Falklands.

The time is 2 pm on a sunny afternoon and we are under attack from Mirages and Skyhawks of the Argentine Air Force. A bomb has just sent up a huge plume of water only a hundred yards away, between our ship and another supply vessel loaded with war merchandise.

We watch as shore batteries and missile systems on the war ships open up against a deafening cacophony from the deck machine guns and naval guns.

Two enemy planes are streaking in silhouette across the green hillsides around San Carlos Bay, one like a red dart. Suddenly they are twin balls of smoke in the blue sky and there is clapping and cheering from the decks of the warships and supply vessels in the bay.

The Argentine warplanes had hit one of the ships, although at first sight the damage did not look serious from our position. It was ironic that this was being fought out above the still visible wreckage of the frigate Antelope hit in Sunday's savage air attacks.

This week, we point you towards one of several games that let you replay the fighting. The Falklands War has a significant naval component leading up to the ground war.

No CSW thread, sorry. We gotta get back to pulling some games in that have threads, eh?

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

By: Brant

24 May 2012

BULLETS! - Recon

-- quick and dirty words of wisdom collected over the years --

"Recon" is a mission, not a unit.

your thoughts always welcome in the comments below!

By: Brant

TRADOC Commander Talks Unified Quest

GEN Cone addresses the upcoming Unified Quest Army Future Game over at Small Wars Journal.

The capstone event of this year’s Unified Quest is the “Army Future Game.” This war game will examine the role of the Army as a decisive, adaptive force across a range of military operations. During the war game, held June 3-8 at Carlisle Barracks, two working groups will address operational scenarios set in 2020 in the PACOM and CENTCOM theaters. Free-play “Red Teams” will employ anti-access and area denial operations within an overarching hybrid strategy to enable a rigorous examination of key proposed concepts. Additionally, a strategic working group composed of more than 60 senior leaders and subject matter experts will examine key strategy and policy issues relevant to shaping the Army of 2020 and informing the Quadrennial Defense Review.

In the Army Future Game we are going to wrestle with some critical challenges. For example, we’ve steadily improved our integration and interoperability of special operations and conventional forces over the last decade of combat. A key issue is how this integration should evolve to best defeat future threats. Additionally, we’d like to develop thoughts on how we accomplish this at home station, at our national combat training centers, and in regional engagement activities.

We’ll also consider how we overcome the hybrid strategy of adversaries that combine the capabilities of conventional, terrorist, criminal, proxy, and irregular organizations and forces. To do this, our scenarios will cause our “Blue Forces” to closely examine how innovations across DOTMLPF might help defeat hybrid strategies.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Vengeance Rising

HMS Vengeance, a Strategic Missile Submarine (SSBN) of the Vanguard Class, is shown in this atmospheric image, returning to HM Naval Base Clyde (HMNB) after a busy period of Operational Sea Training.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

World War II in Photos. A LOT of Photos.

The Atlantic has a huge archive of World War II photos online. You'll be busy for a while going through them.

By: Brant

23 May 2012

GameTalk - Digital Dominance

How do you model digital systems and the information they can provide on today's battlefield? Do you include intel bonuses for those that have digital dominance? Or do you penalize the speed of their decision-making based on the reality of having waaaaaay too much data to sift through? How do you represent the fielding of new systems during the conflict in the game? For instance, troops were already in Iraq when TIGR started to roll out.

Your thoughts below!

By: Brant

Michael Peck Talks Future Warfare with Brookings Institution

Another excellent article from Michael Peck - this time, interview PW Singer of the Brookings Institution, for Foreign Policy. There's a LOT of meat to this article, but here's one particularly critical point.

One of the lessons of history is that there is no such thing as a permanent first-mover advantage. The British invent the tank, inspired by science fiction. They come out of World War I with 12,000 tanks (which is the same number of unmanned ground vehicles that the U.S. military has now), but by the time World War II comes, the Germans had figured out how to use the tank better. There is a more diverse battlespace now in terms of the range of actors out there. It's not just facing off against the Soviets or the Viet Cong. It's a mix of adversaries, from states to nonstate actors that include terrorist groups, to criminal groups, insurgent groups, and private military companies. There are now domains such as cyberspace that didn't exist a generation ago. It is a more complex setting. In a video-game setting, those challenges are a good and a bad thing. It's a more complex world to build, but also a more complex world to create neater characters.

Go read it all. There's much to discuss.

By: Brant

A Bad Idea, Repeated, Is Still a Bad Idea

After MMOWGLI failed to accomplish anything meaningful in examining the issue of HOA piracy, the Navy decided to not accomplish anything meaningful in their quest to explore ending oil dependence.

The Navy is hoping that online game playing will yield new ideas as the service seeks to reduce its exposure to the uncertainties of the global oil market.

The Energy MMOWGLI — short for Massive Multiplayer Online Wargame Leveraging the Internet — calls on players to respond to a range of future scenarios where the Navy’s ability to respond to disasters and security threats is blunted by fuel shortage.

The competition, which runs this week and is open to the public, comes out just as the Navy’s long-term plan for using alternative fuels has been threatened by lawmakers who have criticized its costs.

Earlier this month, House Republicans passed a measure that would bar the Navy from purchasing fuels that cost more than conventional fuels. The biofuels currently being purchased by the Navy for its jets, ships and vehicles cost four to five times the price of fossil fuels.

Within the game, players are open to consider biofuels and any other options that take both consumption and efficiency into account. Players watch videos briefing them on the scenario and then propose ideas in 140 typed characters that advance a small-scale strategy.

Because there's great & deep wisdom in gamers with 140-character limits. (Sigh)
MMOWGLI got over-run with uselessness because they over-valued the repetitive contributor, instead to trying to figure out a way to value the valuable contributor. Doesn't look like they've made any improvements.

By: Brant

Shhhhh... Saudi Arabia "bans" English language

So someone tell me - if the Saudis really did ban the English language, how are they supposed to use the -10s and -20s for the M1 tanks and F15 / F16 aircraft we sold them?

The government in Saudi Arabia has decreed that the English language is to be banned by all government and private agencies. They must now use only Arabic, the language of the Quran.
The Gulf News reported that the use of the English language, widely used in business, has been banned, as has the use of the Gregorian calendar. The Islamic Hijri calendar will replace all use of Gregorian dates which are being used unnecessarily, according to a statement issued by a Saudi Ministry.

How do you break down the quarterly services schedule into the Hijri calendar, anyway?

By: Brant

22 May 2012

Who's On First: Afghan Edition

The National Interest tries to make sense of who's on which side in Afghanistan.

There are no constant friends in international politics—only interests formed by shifting sands and temporary alliances subject to rapid change. Nowhere is this truer than in Southwest Asia. Pakistan, a U.S. ally and sole conduit for aid to the Afghan resistance during the 1980s, is now the primary supporter of the Taliban and other insurgents targeting Western forces in Afghanistan.

India, which leaned towards the USSR during the latter part of the Cold War and voiced no opposition to the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, is now a U.S. strategic partner and staunch supporter of the international effort in Afghanistan. In today’s Afghan army, Soviet-trained officers have joined with former Afghan resistance commanders to defeat the Taliban and its allies.

During the late 1990s, Washington leaned toward the Taliban to counter Iranian influence and secure pipelines from Central Asia. After 2001, the United States and Iran worked together to create a stable anti-Taliban government in Kabul. As Washington established a permanent presence in southwest Afghanistan close to the Iranian border, Iran began supporting elements of the Taliban—despite the movement’s long history of oppressing Afghanistan’s Shia minority and its role in the 1998 murder of Iranian diplomats.

The Taliban banned the opium trade when it controlled southern Afghanistan, but now it has joined with narcotics traffickers to target Western troops and undermine the Afghan government. Notorious drug lord and former governor of Helmand province Sher Muhammad Akhundzada, was instrumental in helping the United States defeat the Taliban in 2002. When he was ousted as governor in 2005, he told his fighters to join the Taliban.

As the insurgents grew in strength and Washington’s withdrawal drew nearer, the Karzai government began leaning toward the Taliban—so much so that leaders among the non-Pashtun minorities worry he may welcome Mullah Omar into Kabul. Senior Pakistani military and intelligence officials have visited Kabul, attempting to persuade Karzai to resist U.S. pressure.

By: Brant

The Royal Navy's First Woman Captain of a Ship

She's taking command of the HMS Portland.

The first woman to command a major Royal Navy warship is taking up her post.
Britain's Ministry of Defense says Commander Sarah West will take control of the frigate HMS Portland Tuesday.
The 40-year-old has served in the Royal Navy for 16 years.
The ship is being refitted and will be based in Devonport.
Officials say women first went to sea with the Royal Navy in 1990 and have served as pilots and mine clearance divers in addition to other posts.

The home page of the HMS Portland.

HMS Portland is currently in an upkeep period at Babcock’s Rosyth dockyard undergoing an upgrade and maintenance programme, including some significant upgrades and improvements to maintain the ship at peak effectiveness. Among the upgrades that Portland will receive during this substantial refit are the new DNA(2) Command System (key to the ship's fighting capability against air, surface and underwater threats); the new Defence Information Infrastructure (Future) (DII(F)), enabling information sharing and collaborative working across the defence sector network; the fit of Sonar 2087 (the tactical variable depth active and passive anti-submarine warfare (ASW) system), the SeaWolf mid-life update (SWMLU) comprising tracking, guidance and weapon management upgrades to counter evolving anti-ship missile threats; the 4.5 Mk8 Mod1 gun replacement; and new 30mm automatic gun fit.HMS Portland has spent most of 2011 in UK waters providing a platform to allow the crucial training of future Principle Warfare Officers, Navigators and Aircrew.

HMS Portland is scheduled to leave Rosyth for sea trials in autumn 2012 before returning to her home port of Devonport prior to Christmas.

HMS Portland spent most of 2011 conducting maritime security of UK waters and providing a platform to allow the crucial training of future Principle Warfare Officers, Navigators and Aircrew.

By: Brant

Sound Off! "Tactical Edge"

Define "the tactical edge"

h/t Stephanie

By: Brant

21 May 2012

More Syrian Shootouts

I guess the UN observers are just observing Syrians shooting other Syrians at this point.

Syrian forces ambushed and killed nine army deserters in a north Damascus suburb on Monday, a human rights watchdog said, as NATO ruled out military action against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
The bloodletting also appeared to spill over into neighbouring Lebanon where two people were killed overnight in street battles between pro- and anti-Syrian groups in Beirut, a security official said.
The latest violence in Syria comes after a rocket-propelled grenade exploded on Sunday near a team of UN observers in a Damascus suburb, and at least 48 people were killed elsewhere in the country.
The nine army deserters were killed as they were retreating under cover of darkness from the village of Jisr al-Ab near Damascus's Douma suburb, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The watchdog on Sunday had reported fighting between rebels and regime troops near Douma, during which the RPG exploded near the team of UN observers.

By: Brant

Get Ready for... MARINES IN SPACE!

The Marines are going all Starship Troopers meets ICBM...

As any battlefield commander will tell you, getting troops to the fight can be as difficult as winning it. And for modern-day soldiers, the sites of conflict are so far-flung, and the political considerations of even flying over another country so complicated, that rapid entry has become nearly impossible. If a group of Marine Corps visionaries have their way, however, 30 years from now, Marines could touch down anywhere on the globe in less than two hours, without needing to negotiate passage through foreign airspace. The breathtaking efficiency of such a delivery system could change forever the way the U.S. does battle.
The proposal, part of the Corps's push toward greater speed and flexibility, is called Small Unit Space Transport and Insertion, or Sustain. Using a suborbital transport-that is, a vehicle that flies into space to achieve high travel speeds but doesn't actually enter orbit-the Corps will be able, in effect, to instantaneously deliver Marine squads anywhere on Earth. The effort is led by Roosevelt Lafontant, a former Marine lieutenant colonel now employed by the Schafer Corporation, a military-technology consulting firm working with the Marines. Insertion from space, Lafontant explains, makes it possible for the Marines-typically the first military branch called on for emergency missions-to avoid all the usual complications that can delay or end key missions. No waiting for permission from an allied nation, no dangerous rendezvous in the desert, no slow helicopter flights over mountainous terrain. Instead, Marines could someday have an unmatched element of surprise, allowing them to do everything from reinforce Special Forces to rescue hostages thousands of miles away.
"Sustain is simply an ability to move Marines very rapidly from one place to another," says Marine colonel Jack Wassink, director of the Corps's Space Integration Branch in Arlington, Virginia, where the program is based. "Space lends itself to that role."

By: Brant

UK In Action: An Education in Firepower

A Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank fires it's main weapon, a 120mm gun during Land Combat Power Demonstration (LCPD). The LCPD is designed to educate Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Land) (ICSC(L)) students (newly promoted Majors) from the Defence Academy. It gives them an understanding of how all the elements of the British Forces come together to project force.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Monday Video: Gunslinger

Start your week with a BANG that spans generations.

Nominate your own videos for inclusion in the comments below.

By: Brant

Tackling Afghanistan's "Future" - And a Few Protestors, too

So world leaders are "set to tackle Afghanistan's future", eh? Here's a question: if we're bringing them into the 20th century, are we tackling their future, our past, or some combination of both?

World leaders weary of war will tackle Afghanistan's post-conflict future — from funding for security forces to upcoming elections — when the NATO summit opens Sunday.
President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai will huddle on the sidelines of the summit or an hour-long meeting. Their talks are expected to focus on planning for Afghanistan's 2014 elections, as well as the prospect of a political settlement with the Taliban, a senior Obama administration official said.
Karzai has said repeatedly he will step down from power when his term ends in 2014, paving the way for new elections. NATO's scheduled end of the war was built around those plans, with foreign forces staying until the 2014 election but exiting the country by 2015.
Obama and Karzai will discuss ways to ensure that political rivals can compete fairly in the run-up to the election, as well as ways to reduce fraud and support the winner who emerges, the official said.
Past Afghan elections were riddled with irregularities, and the U.S. applied heavy pressure to Karzai to schedule a second round of voting during the last presidential contest in 2009. The runoff was never held because Karzai's challenger pulled out in protest of what he claimed was an impossible level of corruption.

Meanwhile, a bunch of protesters are planning demonstrations for the NATO summit. Some people just can't help themselves.

Protesters gathering in Chicago for the NATO summit were gearing up for their largest demonstration Sunday, when thousands are expected to march from a downtown park to the lakeside convention center where President Barack Obama and dozens of other world leaders will meet.
Several hundred demonstrators wound through the city's streets for hours Saturday, testing police who used bicycles to barricade off streets and horseback officers to coax them in different directions. Increasingly tense clashes between protesters and police resulted in 18 arrests, Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said.
Most of Saturday's demonstrations remained relatively small and peaceful, including one march to the home of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff. But a later march stretched for hours as protesters zigzagged back and forth through downtown, some decrying terrorism-related charges leveled against three young men earlier in the day.
Organizers pledged a larger crowd when protesters from the Occupy movement will join forces with an anti-war coalition to mark the opening day of the summit later Sunday.
"We want the world to focus on NATO — they're not important and have no mandate anymore," said Micah Philbrook, an Occupy Chicago spokesman, who criticized the large police presence Saturday. "They're pushing us around and not letting anyone get out of the protest even if they want. They're very aggressive."

By: Brant

18 May 2012

Awesome. With a Side of Awesome-sauce

May we present.... The Claymore Hitch Cover!

...our new products team thought it would be great to bring this unique claymore mine hitch cover to the market place.

We know it will get a second look from the tailgaters in your community, but what the heck, you only go around one time. Our Replica Claymore Hitch Cover is closely patterned after the original. It is virtually the same size and is manufactured from solid polypropylene with UV additives for durability and color fastness and fits 2" standard receivers. The connectors and internal space are solid so there is no chance that it can be confused as a real Claymore mine. We do however strongly advise you to install a hitch pin lock or it may just disappear.

By: Brant

AFRICOM and New US Regionally-Aligned Brigades

The Stars & Stripes has an article on the new regional brigade concept and the first rotation through AFRICOM.

A U.S.-based unit has been selected as the Army’s first “regionally aligned” brigade, and by next year its soldiers could begin conducting operations in Africa.

It is the first step in an effort to develop expert units to rotate through a region.

U.S. Africa Command will be the first to test the new rotational model, intended to give commanders a more reliable supply of soldiers available for short, training-focused missions.

Army chief of staff Gen. Raymond Odierno on Wednesday said that a brigade from the 10th Mountain Division has been picked to lead the effort in Africa.

Plans also call for brigades to eventually be aligned with Southern, Central and Pacific Commands, Odierno said. The number of brigades aligned with a given region will depend on the needs of the respective combatant commands.

“So as they go through a training process, then they become available for a period a time, nine to 12 months,” Odierno said. “And then they can use those forces to meet whatever requirements they might have. It might be rotational forces. It could be building partner capacity. It could be providing security assistance. It could be doing exercises.”

By: Brant

17 May 2012

Iran Shipping Arms to Syria... SHOCKER! (not...)

Hey, Iran is shipping arms to a repressive Syrian regime! In other late-breaking news, gravity continues to hold people to the planet.

The new report, submitted by a panel of sanctions-monitoring experts to the Security Council's Iran sanctions committee, said the panel investigated three large illegal shipments of Iranian weapons over the past year.
"Iran has continued to defy the international community through illegal arms shipments," it stated. "Two of these cases involved (Syria), as were the majority of cases inspected by the Panel during its previous mandate, underscoring that Syria continues to be the central party to illicit Iranian arms transfers."
The third shipment involved rockets that Britain said last year were headed for Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

By: Brant

US Plans to Strike Iran?

So the US ambassador to Israel openly admits what everyone's known for a while - that the US has 'plans' to attack Iran.

U.S. plans for a possible military strike on Iran are ready and the option is "fully available", the U.S. ambassador to Israel said, days before Tehran resumes talks with world powers which suspect it of seeking to develop nuclear arms.
Like Israel, the United States has said it considers military force a last resort to prevent Iran using its uranium enrichment to make a bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is for purely civilian purposes.
"It would be preferable to resolve this diplomatically and through the use of pressure than to use military force," Ambassador Dan Shapiro said in remarks about Iran aired by Israel's Army Radio on Thursday.
"But that doesn't mean that option is not fully available - not just available, but it's ready. The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it's ready," said Shapiro, who the radio station said had spoken on Tuesday.

Look, the US has plans to attack damn near everyone. Somewhere in the bowels of the Pentagon is a plan to attack Sweden, in case we ever need it. Just because there's a plan doesn't mean we want to / will use it.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Challenger UOR Demo

A Challenger Main Battle Tank with improved armour, is shown taking part in the Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) Equipment Demonstration at Salisbury Plain in September 2008. The demonstration displayed the full range of equipment that is in use by the Army, on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Involved in the display were actual soldiers who had used the equipment in an operational environment.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

16 May 2012

GameTalk - An Otherwise Vulgar Brawl

Even before the advent of high-explosives, artillery was one of the most telling weapons on the battlefield.  Most casualties in WWI were caused by high-explosive, and the very term "shell-shock" refers to the effect that constant bombardment has on spirit of the fighting man.  But do wargames provide an adequate representation of the effect of classic and modern artillery?  How many games turn on the effective (or ineffective) use of artillery?  What are some examples of artillery done well...and not so well?

By: Jack Nastyface

15 May 2012

EU Attacks Somali pirates... On Land!

EU mans up; strikes Somali pirates on land.

The European Union naval force patrolling the Indian Ocean on Tuesday carried out its first air strikes against pirate targets on shore, with a pirate reporting that the raid destroyed speed boats, fuel depots and an arms store.
Bile Hussein, a pirate commander, said Tuesday the attack on Handulle village in the Mudug region of Somalia's central coastline will cause a setback to pirate operations. The village lies about 18 kilometers (11 miles) north of Haradheere town, a key pirate lair. There were no reports of deaths in the attack.
Maritime aircraft and attack helicopters took part in the attacks early in the morning on the mainland, an EU spokesman said.
The EU is the main donor to the Somali transitional government. It is also trains Somali army troops, and is reinforcing the navies of five neighboring countries to enable them to counter piracy themselves. The long coastline of war-ravaged Somalia provides a perfect haven for pirate gangs preying on shipping off the East African coast.

If anyone can find out more, we'd love to hear about what maritime attack planes were involved, and what ships they were launched from.

By: Brant

SecDef on Transition in Afghanistan

The formal press release of the SecDef welcoming our new Afghani overlords.

“I am very pleased to see that today President Karzai identified the areas that have been selected for the next phase of security transition in Afghanistan. This is another tangible sign of progress in our strategy and in the further development of Afghan leadership and responsibility for their own security.

“With more than 100 districts identified, this third phase will be the largest yet. When implemented, roughly three-fourths of the Afghan people will live in areas undergoing transition to Afghan security lead. It means that transition will be occurring in every province in the country, and in every provincial capital.

“None of this would be possible without the growing strength of the Afghan National Security Forces, which remain essential to our shared goal of an Afghanistan that can secure and govern itself. I commend our troops and those of our ISAF partners for their determination and commitment to this vital mission. And I applaud General Allen and Ambassador Crocker for their extraordinary leadership.

“Thanks to their efforts, the transition to Afghan security lead is on track to be completed by the end of 2014. We will continue working toward our shared goal of an Afghanistan that provide security and greater prosperity for its people. Today's announcement marks another significant step on the path to a brighter future for Afghanistan.”

By: Brant

14 May 2012

UK In Action: Challenger Fireball

A Challenger 2 main battle tank during a night firing exercise by the Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry at Lulworth, Dorset.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Monday Video: No One Left Behind

Starting your week with a BANG

Nominate your own videos for inclusion in the comments below.

By: Brant

HRW Calling for Investigation of NATO; Call for Libya Coming? You Know Better

Look HRW, if you want to grab headlines, fine, keep calling for NATO to investigate civilian deaths in Libya. But if you want to be a truly effective and neutral broker of rights investigations, you better damn well call for an investigation of the civilian deaths caused by the now-deposed Libyan gov't, too.

A leading human rights organisation has urged Nato to investigate fully the deaths of civilians in air strikes in Libya last year.

Human Rights Watch believes Nato air strikes killed at least 72 civilians and says the organisation needs to bear responsibility where appropriate.

"We're calling for prompt, credible and thorough investigations," HRW's Fred Abrahams told BBC News.

Nato insists it took unprecedented care to minimise civilian casualties.

It argues that it cannot take responsibility because it has had no presence on the ground to confirm the deaths.

Aircraft from the US, the UK and France conducted most of the 9,658 strike sorties last year, targeting forces loyal to Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

By: Brant

13 May 2012

Italy Intervening in... Italy?!

With political violence on the rise in Italy, will the Army get involved?

Italy is considering using the army to protect the defense conglomerate Finmeccanica and the tax collection agency Equitalia, the targets of a series of attacks that are raising concerns about political violence, the interior minister said.
Although protests against Italy's austerity program have been largely peaceful, last week a well-known anarchist group claimed responsibility for an attack in which a Finmeccanica executive was shot in the leg.
"Investigators tell me this is a credible claim. This forces us to raise our guard to avoid an escalation that, sadly, is one possible scenario. This is what we are going to do in the next days," Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri told the daily La Repubblica in an interview.
She said using the army to defend potential targets was "a possible solution".
A national security committee will meet on Thursday. Cancellieri said Equitalia, the target of a string of letter bomb and petrol bomb attacks, needed tighter security.

By: Brant

The Sage of Brigade-Based Ops, Douglas MacGregor, Weighs In On Reforming the US Army

How'd we get here? and how do we get back to where we want to be?

In the United States, it’s popular to focus on technology to the exclusion of all else. The Service bureaucracies are comfortable with this approach because it models “gadgets against gadgets” in simulation. This approach treats the anachronistic organizational status quo as irrelevant and unchangeable. The possibility that command structures, organization for combat and human understanding could be at least if not more decisive is not even considered.

It’s the victory of what Don Vandergriff (Major, US Army, retired) attributes to the destructive impact of Frederick Taylor’s industrial age model. Those who dismiss criticality of how we organize our forces and equipment, how we train and educate to fight miss the point that organization in particular reflects cultural patterns that shape thinking and behavior or how we interact with the technology of war and events in action, (an argument Delbrueck made). Ultimately, organization tells you how we think about warfare. If the organizational paradigm never changes, it tells you the thinking, policies and culture have not changed either.

These points notwithstanding, change is not always possible. In 1973, the Egyptian Army’s rigid, top-heavy command structure stifled fresh ideas, tactical flexibility, and honest communication from lower levels. After successfully crossing the Suez in a carefully planned and well-rehearsed operation this military culture contributed decisively to Egypt’s defeat at the hands of the Israel Defense Force. However, in practice, Egypt’s leaders knew Arab culture demanded that every action be scripted from the top down to the individual soldier. The point is: Egyptian national military and political leadership had little choice in the matters of organization, leadership and tactics, let alone operational art. What they did was all that they could do.

A similar dilemma confronted the Soviet military leadership during WW II. The Stavka had to organize and move tens of millions of illiterate, and largely unwilling Slavic and Mongol-Turkic soldiers into battle against a highly educated, competently led German Army. (Ivan’s War is a recent work informed by the NKVD archives now closed, and worth reading on this point). As I was told during an official visit to the Russian General Staff Academy in November 2001, unavoidable tactical rigidity together with the brutal subjugation of millions who did not want to defend Stalin’s Russia produced at least 40 million Soviet dead, twice what the Soviets publicly admitted, but the communists were always great liars.

By: Brant

12 May 2012

Professional Intel Operator, oh yeah, and "Mom"

Just in time for Mothers' Day, and excellent article from CNN's Security Clearance blog about the intel communities female operators.

Nada Bakos used to go work with a Glock strapped to her thigh. The former targeting officer for the CIA started her intelligence career as an analyst in 2000. But then September 11 happened.

"Everybody's life changed," said Nada Bakos, who, like many other women who were serving as analysts prior to 9/11, moved to the counterterrorism and eventually made the switch to the operations side, which meant she wasn't just analyzing the data on the bad guys, she was going after them.

She didn't yet have a family when she accepted her assignment as a targeting officer in Iraq, working alongside special forces in the hunt for the now-deceased terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. She won't share the details of exactly what she did to help find him, but she saw definite advantages to being a woman in the arena, noting that she sometimes had a very different experience than her male counterparts when it came to working within the norms of the culture.

"I got a completely different response than the men did," said Bakos, describing one particular effort to gather information. "How is a 26-year-old white male gonna walk up to a woman in the Middle East and say 'Hey, why don't you talk to me?' "

After a couple of years, Bakos realized that she knew more about Zarqawi than she did about many of the other men in her life. That, in part, was a wake up call to do something more: She wanted to start a family. But she was deep into her career on the operations side. That was a problem."The difference between men and women is that it's really hard for women to live the lifestyle of a case officer," said Bakos. "If you have a significant other, it's hard for you both to be employed. I was 37 then and I can't really say, 'Hey, let's interrupt your career and you can carve out what you need."

Much more - go read.

By: Brant

Indian Deal for US-Made Howitzers

The Indians are upgrading their artillery, to the tune of $560 mil.

India has agreed a $560-million deal to buy 145 howitzer guns from BAE Systems of the United States as it upgrades its antiquated military hardware, an official said Saturday.
India is updating its military capabilities with hardware worth tens of billions of dollars in the face of long-standing tensions with regional rivals China and Pakistan.
"The contract for the ultra-light howitzers was awarded on Friday to BAE Systems Inc" of the United States, a unit of Britain-based BAE Systems Plc, a senior defence ministry official told AFP on condition of anonymity..
The government will spend 30 billion rupees ($560 million) on the field guns, the official said.
The howitzers, with a maximum range of 30 kilometres (17 miles), will be used by the army's mountain artillery divisions along India's high-altitude frontiers.

They're the M777 howitzers.

By: Brant

11 May 2012

Random Friday Wargaming: Logistics Command

OK Folks, we've have the game for the Fightin' S-4 out there. That's right, here comes Logistics Command! Yes, a board game of operational/low-strategic materiel movement. Wow.

You already know there's no CSW forum on this. Troll and Toad has one for sale, if you've got some cash laying around for something totally off-the-wall.

You can find some additional info out there on this game. This one's from The Big Game Hunter.

No[t] all educational material produced by or for companies was targeted at the individual worker. In 1978, Westinghouse’s Business System Group in Hunt Valley, Maryland, produced Logistics Command. The game itself bears the influence of another Maryland game company, Avalon Hill, both in its style of packaging and in its use of mounted game boards and cardboard counters in a wargame-type setting. The objective of the game was to show the value of maintaining proper support transport, spare parts, and other material not usually treated as wargame subject matter. At the time this game was published, Westinghouse was best noted in the Maryland area for its defense work. U.S. sales abroad of new military hardware (produced from older weapons systems designs by a number of defense contractors, including Westinghouse) was a regular news staple during that period. This game has jokingly been referred to as Westinghouse’s sales pitch to persuade Third World dictators that they should buy more spare parts along with their newly purchased weapons systems. It has been viewed more seriously in recent years, and is now somewhat prized by wargames collectors for its role in treating the issue of logistical support.

Something pretty funny over at Troll & Toad. There's a the usual "customer who bought this also bought..." at the bottom. Check out the recommendations for a board game about esoteric military logistics.

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

By: Brant

10 May 2012

A Review of "Simulating War: Studying Conflict Through Simulation Games"

From the Times Higher Education in the UK, a review of Dr Sabin's book, Simulating War: Studying Conflict Through Simulation Games It starts...

Computers have not eclipsed manual board war gaming. This is the strong message delivered in Philip Sabin's Simulating War. This book is about war gaming, and if you are expecting a traditional treatment of simulation, you may be disappointed. Sabin, a military historian, is also a master war-game designer, and a significant part of the book is devoted to very effective descriptions of his methodology and design, with several examples of completed games provided, including Second Punic War, Roma Invicta?, Hell's Gate, Big Week and Fire and Movement.

The book's stated purpose is to "teach you how to research and design your own simple wargames on conflicts of your choice, just as do Professor Sabin's own students in his MA course on conflict simulation". Without a doubt, Sabin meets this goal. I was at one time an avid board war-game hobbyist and also participated in professional war gaming during a career in the US Army, so Sabin's book found a ready audience in this reviewer. It may not be appealing for readers who are not interested in board-based games.

Much more at the link.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Sabre Stats

Sabre Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) - CVR(T) - was brought into service in 1995 using a Scorpion chassis and the 30mm turret from CVR(W) Fox. It is almost identical to Scimitar but has a lower profile turret. Equipped with a Rarden Cannon and Hughes chain gun, Sabre is used for close reconnaissance. Length 5.15m; Width 2.17m; Height 2.17m; Weight 8.13 tonnes; Engine Jaguar 4.2 litre; Crew 3; Armament 30mm Rarden Cannon; 7.62 Hughes chain gun.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Syria Ceasefire Has Ceased Its Effectiveness

Now there are bombs going off in Damascus.

Two explosions have hit the Syrian capital, Damascus, killing at least 40 people and wounding 170, officials say.

State TV footage of the blasts showed massive destruction in the al-Qazzaz suburb to the south of Damascus said to house a military intelligence complex.

The TV report said they were "terrorist bombings". Damascus has been the target of several bombs in past months amid continuing anti-government unrest.

The two sides are supposed to observe a ceasefire monitored by UN observers.

But violence has continued unabated, with the restive city of Homs shelled again overnight.

By: Brant

09 May 2012

Liveblogging the Special CASL Strategic Wargaming Roundtable featuring Dr Philip Sabin

There's a special CASL roundtable going on today, as Dr Philip Sabin, author of the books Simulating War and Lost Battles, is giving a talk.
(edit the next day: here are the slides, so you can see the charts/diagrams below for yourself)

Your liveblog follows...

The Continuing Merits of Manual Wargaming

Talking primarily about tabletop wargaming... contrasting with Roger D Smith's book Military Simulation & Serious Games, that treats manual wargaming as "ancient history"

Key topics we're covering today
- What are wargames?
- What use are wargames?
- Why manual wargames?
- Accuracy vs simplicity
- Fog of war
- Luck of the dice

More after the jump!

GameTalk - Poor Bloody Infantry

Many modern era games focus on the spectacular aspect of tank and AFV combat.  The Flames of War - Open Fire! introductory game doesn't even include infanty units, and infantry rarely make a meaningful appearance in future "Mech-war" games.  Meanwhile, your dear contributor has always believed that the true mark of a talented wargamer can be seen in how they well they use infantry.  So what say you?  Do tanks and AFV's get too much attention in modern and science-fiction wargaming?  Does wargaming fortune usually favor those who well use their tanks? {GRAMMAR>>>is it "well use their tanks" or "..use their tanks well?"}

By: Jack Nastyface

Both Sides Ignoring US Ceasefire in Syria

The US-brokered ceasefire has been pretty useless in Syria.

Security forces killed at least 10 people in fighting across Syria on Tuesday, activists said, in a 14-month-old revolt that international mediator Kofi Annan, the Red Cross and Arab League warned was deteriorating into a civil war.
Clashes between government forces and rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad raged overnight in Syrian towns and flared again during the day, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Despite an initial pause in fighting on April 12, a promised ceasefire has not taken hold. Nor has the carnage in Syria stopped, despite a parliamentary poll on Monday which the government promoted as a milestone on its path to reform but the opposition dismissed as a sham and boycotted.

I mean, really, if you're blowing up convoys 30 seconds after the head of the UN mission drives by, it's clear that you don't care much about the ceasefire.

A roadside bomb struck a Syrian military truck Wednesday, wounding six soldiers just seconds after a convoy carrying the head of the U.N. observer mission passed by.
An Associated Press reporter who was traveling in the U.N. convoy said the explosion blew out the military truck's windows and caused a plume of thick, black smoke. The U.N. convoy was not hit.
"We were driving behind the U.N. convoy as protection when a roadside bomb exploded, wounding a 1st Lieutenant and five troops," a soldier who asked to be identified only by his first name, Yahya, told The Associated Press at the scene.
At least three bloodied soldiers were rushed away.
The blast went off after the head of the U.N. observer mission, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, headed into this southern Syrian city with a team of observers and a convoy of journalists. The explosion was more than 100 meters (330 feet) behind the convoy.

By: Brant

Army Staff and High School Cliques: A Comparative Analysis

This is pretty inspired... an analysis of how Army staff sections map to high school cliques over at Two Jonahs

S1 (admin) - Yearbook Committee: This is group of people that think their job is much more important than it actually is. They are usually mostly female and their main job is to make sure that they know who everyone is, but they usually forget some people here or there. (see photo not available)

S2 (intel) - Goths: Almost never seen out in the sunlight and when they are they are very disengaged from the rest of the group. Usually very quiet and will not talk to others unless it is to dispatch some crazy warning about a mysterious and probable made up danger.

S3 (operations) - Jocks: For some reason this group has total authority over all the other groups despite any merit or logic. They are by far the biggest and most desirable group to be in, but resented by the other groups. Any decision made by this group, however frivolous, must be carried out by the rest under penalty of being shunned and mocked.

S4 (logistics) - Drug Dealers: A necessary evil, this group is generally disliked, but condoned by the other groups. They develop strange and intricate webs of favors and have far reaching connections and "hook ups" to get people what they want. Almost any request given to the group is changed and manipulated in the end to whatever they can get their hands on, which most people are generally happy enough with. Any dealing with this group could result in a loss of a significant amount of money for the individual.

There's more... follow the link above for the S5, S7, Special Staff, and the Hippies!

By: Brant

08 May 2012

Sound Off! Sounding Off!

Do we keep this feature running, even though the topics may get more and more esoteric?
Or do we punt now while we're ahead and try to find something else to keep you engaged?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

Intelligence Agencies: Keeping Us Safe

Here's the start of the article about the new underwear-bomb plot that was thwarted by the CIA.

The U.S. thwarted a bomb plot by al Qaeda's Yemeni branch aimed at bringing down a jetliner with a more advanced version of an underwear bomb used in a failed 2009 Christmas Day attempt, officials said Monday.

The Central Intelligence Agency, working with foreign security services, was able to seize the bomb—which they believed was intended for a U.S.-bound flight—before the would-be suicide bomber was able to move ahead with his plot, officials said. Because the plot was headed off in its early stages, officials said the effort never represented a threat to Americans or to U.S. allies, nor did airlines face a direct threat.

The bomb was "viable," a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said. The official added that it probably would have gone off but it did have some flaws that may have impacted its ability to detonate properly. The Federal Bureau of Investigation now has the bomb and is analyzing its makeup. The agency hopes to better understand tactics being employed by the al Qaeda affiliate that U.S. officials say poses the greatest danger to the U.S.

In any version of the article, anywhere, you can't find a single mention of the TSA having anything to do with saving us from this scourge. But hey, the TSA's new rule over this will probably be that we all have to fly commando now.

By: Brant

07 May 2012

AQ Surprises Yemeni Military

How bad are the Yemeni military if AQ manages to surprise the garrison and kill 20 Yemeni soldiers?

Al-Qaida militants staged a surprise attack Monday on a Yemeni army base in the south, killing 20 soldiers and capturing 25 just hours after a U.S. drone strike killed a senior figure in the terror network wanted in connection with the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen.
It was not immediately clear if the pre-dawn attack on the military base in the southern Abyan province was in retaliation for the death of Fahd al-Quso, a top al-Qaida leader on the FBI's most wanted list.
The militants managed to reach the base both from the sea and by land, gunning down troops and making away with weapons and other military hardware after the blitz attack, Yemeni military officials said.

Seriously? Combined arms attack? A "blitz" attack? Was AQ really that good? Or are they being pumped up by the Yemenis to cover for their own shortcomings?

By: Brant

UK In Action: Black Watch Scimitar

A Scimitar Light Tank from the 1st Battalion, The Black Watch is pictured during a firepower demonstration on Salisbury Plain.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

Monday Video: Here Come the French

A French BANG for you to start your week.

Yes, the music's in English... sorry

Nominate your own videos for inclusion in the comments below.

By: Brant

AQ Holding American, Making Demands

They've released a hostage video and are having him read out a list of demands.

In a video released Sunday by al-Qaida, American hostage Warren Weinstein said he will be killed unless President Barack Obama agrees to the militant group's demands.
"My life is in your hands, Mr. President," Weinstein said in the video. "If you accept the demands, I live; if you don't accept the demands, then I die."
Weinstein was abducted last August in Lahore, Pakistan, after gunmen tricked his guards and broke into his home. The 70-year-old from Rockville, Md., is the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a Virginia-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors.
In a video message posted on militant websites in December, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri said Weinstein would be released if the United States stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. He also demanded the release of all al-Qaida and Taliban suspects around the world.

You know they're not going to cave on the demands. More to the point, you know that AQ has got to know that the US gov't isn't going to cave on any demands, so what's the point?

By: Brant

06 May 2012

More Border Disputes in Southern Sudan

With 1800km of wide open desert to mark, it's no wonder that Sudan and South Sudan keep straying over the border.

Sudan's army accused South Sudan on Saturday of having troops on its territory, a sign tensions between the former civil war foes were unlikely to cool despite an international ultimatum to end fighting.
Sudanese army spokesman al-Sawarmi Khalid said the military would abide by a U.N.-backed African Union call to halt hostilities, in an effort to end weeks of border fighting that has threatened to escalate into a full-blown war.
But Khalid said the army had a right to defend its territory from foreign troops.
"We have committed to (the decision). And no shot has been fired from our side and no attacks or raids have been launched ... towards South Sudan," Khalid told Reuters.
"But we have to point out that we are still affected by the presence of the South Sudanese army inside our territories in some areas," he said, naming Kafen Debbi and Samaha in south and east Darfur.
South Sudan's army, the SPLA, denied the allegation.
"(Kafen Debbi) was used by ... militia to attack us. And these are inside western Bahr al-Ghazal, which is part of our territory," SPLA spokesman Philip Aguer said.

View Larger Map

By: Brant

05 May 2012

Navy to Christen USNS Cesar Chavez

We won't editorials on Cesar Chavez, and instead just point out that the US Navy will christen the USNS Cesar Chavez on Saturday evening.

The Navy will christen and launch the dry cargo/ammunition ship the USNS Cesar Chavez, Saturday, May 5, 2012, during a 7:30 p.m. PDT ceremony at the General Dynamics NASSCO shipyard in San Diego. The ship is named to honor prominent civil rights activist Cesar Chavez, who served in the Navy during World War II.

Juan M. Garcia III, assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, will deliver the ceremony’s principal address. Serving as the ship’s sponsor is Helen Fabela Chavez, widow of the ship’s namesake. The ceremony will include the Navy’s time-honored tradition of the sponsor breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship.

Continuing the Lewis and Clark class T-AKE tradition of honoring legendary pioneers and explorers, the Navy’s newest underway replenishment ship recognizes Mexican-American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez (1927-1993), who served in the Navy during World War II. Chavez later went on to become a leader in the American Labor Movement and co-found the National Farm Workers Association, which became the United Farm Workers.

Designated T-AKE 14, Cesar Chavez is the final of the Lewis and Clark dry cargo/ammunition ships, all of which will be operated by the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command. To help the Navy maintain a worldwide forward presence by delivering ammunition, food, fuel, and other supplies to U.S. and allied ships at sea, T-AKEs are serving as combat logistics force (CLF) ships. In support of the enhanced maritime prepositioning ship squadron concept of operations, two T-AKEs are being allocated to the maritime prepositioning squadrons to provide sea-based logistics support to Marine Corps units afloat and ashore.

As part of MSC, T-AKE 14 is designated as a united states naval ship and will be crewed by civil service mariners. This is the first Navy ship named after Chavez. For CLF missions, the T-AKEs’ crews include a small department of sailors.

Like the other dry cargo/ammunition ships, T-AKE 14 is designed to operate independently for extended periods at sea and can carry two helicopters and their crews. The ship is 689 feet in length, has an overall beam of 106 feet, has a navigational draft of 30 feet, displaces approximately 42,000 tons and is capable of reaching a speed of 20 knots using a single-shaft, diesel-electric propulsion system

By: Brant

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Finally Back in Court

The tribunal in Guantanamo Bay Bis set to resume.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are to be charged by a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay.

An earlier attempt to try the men was halted in 2009 when President Barack Obama tried to shut Guantanamo down.

New rules for Guantanamo trials have been since introduced, including a ban on evidence obtained under torture.

However, defence lawyers still say the system lacks legitimacy, because of restricted access to their clients.

President Obama's efforts to hold Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's trial in New York foundered in the face of political and public opposition and it will now be held at a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, as previously planned.

A small number of victims' relatives have arrived at the military complex to attend the arraignment.

By: Brant

Karzai Claims He Schooled US on Recent Security Deal

Political posturing for internal audiences is fine, but when you sound like a tool to your primary benefactor, the citizens of that country aren't interested in helping you out too much.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai struck a nationalistic tone Thursday in explaining his signing of a strategic pact with the United States, saying that Washington had bowed to many of his demands.

Mr. Karzai said the Strategic Partnership Agreement signed Tuesday evening in Kabul met several of Afghanistan's tough conditions, and highlighted that it forbids the U.S. from attacking other countries from the bases it may retain here after the bulk of foreign troops withdraw in 2014.

So what did the US agree to?

Mr. Karzai presented himself as a tough negotiator who had laid out essential "preconditions" for the signing of the strategic agreement. He said the U.S. yielded ground in negotiations on hot-button issues such as the detention Afghan citizens and night raids by U.S. special operations forces.

"Our fundamental conditions were that the U.S. forces must not have the permission to run prisons...they must not be allowed to arrest Afghans, they must not be allowed to enter Afghan homes," he said. "These were our preconditions in order to enter into this strategic agreement."

I guess that's fine until the first time an Afghan brigade gets their ass handed to them in an independent operation.

By: Brant

Anniversary: Battle of Puebla

If you don't know that Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Battle of Puebla, and that it's not the Mexican Independence Day, then you don't get to drink Coronas 'til you're blind.

By: Brant

04 May 2012

US Focusing on Troop Discipline

From the SecDef on down, they're getting the troops back in line.

From tasteless photos to urinating on dead insurgents, bad behavior by U.S. troops in Afghanistan has hampered America's war effort over the past year, triggering a broad new campaign by defense leaders to improve discipline in the ranks.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, in his first personal appeal to troops on the issue, is expected Friday to remind U.S. forces that they are representing the American people and they must behave up to military standards.
Panetta will speak to soldiers at Fort Benning, Georgia, and he is expected to urge them to act as leaders and look after their comrades. His remarks are expected to reflect recent talks by the Army and Marine Corps chiefs telling their commanders to get their troops in line.

The Marines less flowery.

Marine Corps Commandant James Amos was blunter.
"We are allowing our standards to erode," he wrote his commanders. "A number of recent widely publicized incidents have brought discredit on the Marine Corps and reverberated at the strategic level. The undisciplined conduct represented in these incidents threatens to overshadow all our good work and sacrifice."
Senior leaders have warned for several years about a deterioration of discipline that may have contributed to increased substance abuse, suicides, domestic abuse and other problems.

By: Brant

Random Friday Wargaming: Tacforce

Something different for your Friday... a set of GDW microarmor rules - TacForce, from Frank Chadwick.

Nifty how the rules are mocked up to look like US Army field manuals from the time.
Plenty of places online to find it for sale, but no discussion boards out there to be had!

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

By: Brant

03 May 2012


Holy crap, people!

While we weren't looking, y'all pushed us over 100,000 US visitors! Woot, woot!


By: Brant

Argentina Marks Belgrano Anniversary

With the 30th anniversary of the Falklands ongoing, we're going to see commemorations on both sides, and right now, the Argentines are marking the anniversary of the sinking of the General Belgrano.

Argentina has held ceremonies to mark the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the warship General Belgrano during the Falklands War with the UK.

Survivors and relatives of the 323 crew who died gathered in Buenos Aires to mourn their loss.

President Cristina Fernandez reiterated Argentina's claim to the Falklands, which it calls Las Malvinas.

The Belgrano - a cruiser - was torpedoed by the British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror on 2 May 1982.

Its sinking remains one of the most controversial actions of the Falklands conflict.

image from Wikimedia

By: Brant

China Provoking the Philippines?

The Chinese are sending more ships to the disputed Scarborough shoal.

The Philippine military on Thursday accused China of sending more ships to a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, describing the move as an insult that would further inflame tensions.
Four Chinese surveillance ships and 10 fishing boats have anchored off the disputed Scarborough Shoal, with the fishermen taking giant clams and corals that are protected under Philippine law, a regional military spokesman said.
It is the largest number of Chinese vessels seen at the shoal since the two countries began a sovereignty standoff there almost a month ago, according to Major Loel Egos, whose northern command covers the area.
"They are just worsening the insult, bringing in all these fishing boats and all we can do is resort to diplomacy," Egos told AFP.
"They really want to test what a little country like the Philippines can do against a giant."
Egos said the Philippines, which has one of the weakest militaries in the region, has just two coast guard ships and a fisheries bureau vessel at the shoal that are unable to do anything about the Chinese fishing.

By: Brant

UK In Action: Loading by Starlight

Soldiers from the Household Cavalry Regiment Battle Group load ration supplies, dropped at night by C-130 Hercules aircraft, onto a Springer vehicle near Forward Operating Base (FOB) Edinburgh on the outskirts of Musa Qal’eh, Afghanistan. Air drops are being used to minimise the threat to road convoys from improvised explosive devices (IED’s) by reducing their need. The loads can be dropped accurately from the air, making resupplying the Forward Operating Bases less dangerous. Troops collect the stores from the drop zone, and use a variety of vehicles including the new Springer to return the rations into the FOB.

img from UK MoD

By: Widow 6-7

02 May 2012

"Progress" Report on Afghanistan

The DoD has announced the release of the Report on Progress in Afghanistan.

The April 2012 “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan,” a biannual report to Congress in accordance with Section 1230 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181) as amended, was provided today to Congress

Now, if you hit the DoD's pubs site, you have to know what you're looking for, because nothing screams "Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan" like "Section 1230/1231 Reports - April 2012".

We'll help you out with this one... Download the PDF here.

By: Brant

Anthropologists Still Banging on HTS

In a commentary column at C4ISR Journal, a pair of DoD-affiliated anthropologists are still hammering on HTS.

Sending social scientists to study local populations in the company of armed troops amid active hostilities will not produce scientifically reliable information. Just as important are the long-term consequences of this approach. Embedding anthropologists with combat brigades undermines their independence and duty not to harm populations — requirements that are the linchpins of anthropological ethics. Calling embedded anthropologists “social scientists” does not solve the problem.

We are also concerned about the military’s reported plans to make its HTS teams permanent, and to use them for so-called “phase zero” activities abroad after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Present concerns are based upon the issues identified in our 2009 report.

The association’s Commission on the Engagement of Anthropology with the U.S. Security and Intelligence Communities concluded unanimously that “when ethnographic investigation is determined by military missions, not subject to external review, where data collection occurs in the context of war, integrated into the goals of counterinsurgency, and in a potentially coercive environment — all characteristic factors of the HTS concept and its application — it can no longer be considered a legitimate professional exercise of anthropology.”

It is important that readers of C4ISR Journal understand that this statement was written not by some hippie fringe of the profession but by a group that included anthropologists who work for the military in non-HTS capacities. For example, one was a staff archeologist for the Army, and another continues to provide cultural training for the Marine Corps.

By: Brant

F-16s to Taiwan Back On?

While the Chinese are distracted with internal political issues, will the US push through a fighter sale to Taiwan?

Just as everything was becoming as clear as mud, America has unexpectedly raised the possibility that it might sell Taiwan the F-16 C/D fighter jets that it has been requesting since 2006. The move would infuriate China. Officials in Beijing have in the past voiced strenuous opposition to the sale of F-16 C/Ds, marking it as a line in the sand, of the kind that can’t be crossed.

As it stands, the gesture was remarkably blunt. Days before the arrival of Hillary Clinton, America’s secretary of state, and smack dab in the middle of confusions to do with the custody of Chen Guangcheng, the boffins in charge of America’s foreign affairs have made things much tougher than they might have done, had they tarried for some weeks or months. It was on Friday that the White House said, seemingly out of the blue, that it is “mindful of...Taiwan’s growing shortfall in fighter aircraft” and “committed to assisting Taiwan in addressing the disparity in numbers of aircraft through our work with Taiwan’s defence ministry.”

Looking at the current Taiwanese air force...
No one in Taiwan doubts that the island needs new jets. China has 2,300 military aircraft in service, to Taiwan’s 490. Of those 490, around 60 are elderly F-5 jets that were sold to Taiwan during the Reagan administration. Another 50-odd are French-made Mirage fighters which are scheduled for retirement over the next several years; their maintenance and spare parts have become too expensive. The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, a lobby group which represents American defence companies, among others, estimates that Taiwan will have as few as 75 usable modern fighters at its disposal from 2016 to 2022, while the F-16 A/B planes are undergoing upgrades.

source: Wikimedia

By: Brant

GameTalk - Weird Weapons of War

If necessity is the Mother of Invention, then the desperate days of war have brought about some very unique (but not always successful) battlefield innovations.  To wit: the Japanese Lunge mine, Russian mine dogs, and the German Goliath.  Do experimental weapons show us the value (or futility?) of unique or alternative thinking in waging war, or are they just fun play and largely an entertaining distraction?  What games have you played that allowed you to deploy some of these odd weapons?

By: Jack Nastyface

It's Not Just The Syrian Government

Apparently the Syrian rebels are violating the cease-fire, too, putting a damper on their claims to the moral high ground.

A rebel ambush in northern Syria killed 15 security force members on Wednesday, including two colonels, as fighting flared in Aleppo province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Britain-based group said two rebels were also killed in the clashes, another breach of a U.N.-backed ceasefire aimed at halting the fighting between Syrian forces and rebels who are part of the year-long revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.

By: Brant

01 May 2012

Sound Off! Specialized Platforms or One-Size-Fits-All

Do you build your vehicle fleet on...

... distinct platforms for each system (AFV, tank, arty, etc)?
... a common platform that does many things "well" and nothing "excellent"?

Sound off below!

By: Brant

BUB: Wars and Coups

Clashes in Congo leave 5 dead.

At least five people have been killed in clashes between Democratic Republic of Congo's army and soldiers loyal to a renegade general wanted by the International Criminal court for war crimes, U.N. and military sources said on Monday.
The fighting in the Masisi region of North Kivu began late on Sunday and forced thousands of residents to flee their homes, some of them into neighbouring Rwanda, said aid groups.
General Bosco Ntaganda fought the government as a rebel before he was integrated into the army alongside other insurgents as part of a 2009 peace deal.
But clashes erupted again after President Joseph Kabila announced in mid April that he would try to arrest Ntaganda, a divise figure who has been at the heart of the region's instability, "because the whole country wants peace".

Meanwhile, in Mali, a countercoup seems to have failed.

Mali's junta said Tuesday the group still controls the state broadcaster, the airport and a military base after a countercoup attempt.
Soldiers loyal to coup leader Capt. Amadou Sanogo appeared on state television early Tuesday and said the important installations remained in their hands after Monday's attempt.
But heavy gunfire could still be heard in Bamako Tuesday, suggesting that the junta did not yet have total control over the capital.
Anti-junta forces on Monday took over the country's state broadcaster and attacked the airport and the junta's main military base.

And yet, following a military coup in Fiji, there seems to be real progress towards elections.

A Pacific delegation, including foreign ministers from Australia and New Zealand, on Tuesday reported Fiji's military regime was making "positive progress" towards holding elections in 2014.
Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and his New Zealand counterpart Murray McCully, two of the harshest critics of Fiji's military dictatorship, travelled to Suva as part of a Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) delegation.
The regime, which seized power in a 2006 coup, reneged on a promise to hold elections in 2009 but the PIF group said there were signs it intended to honour its promise to hold a ballot in 2014.
"Ministers said they were encouraged by the steps taken by Fiji on election planning, as well as by information provided about Fiji's intentions," they said in a statement.
"These gave Ministers a sense that Fiji was a country in transition, moving to put in place processes required for elections."

By: Brant