Category Archives: Media vs. Military

Guess Who Turned Up in a Pot Raid?

mad-magazine-trading-private-bergdahlWho was it that turned up in a raid on an industrial pot facility? Everybody’s The President’s favorite deserter1, who’s supposed to be in the jug awaiting trial for desertion, turned up in a massive marijuana raid in California.

The cops looked to return the peripatetic accused to his military base, only to get a “don’t bother” from military officials.

The Unique and Special Snowflake™ whose desertion to the Taliban led to the loss of a half-dozen lives of loyal Americans looking for him, as he gave them aid and comfort, wan’t AWOL at all. Knowing how Special he is and how much people in High Places prefer him to the usual ruck and scrum of enlisted swine, he’d been basically told, in that favorite phrase of sergeants everywhere, “You’ve got nothing to do. Don’t do it here.” The authorities knew he was in California and were cool with it.

Bergdahl was visiting with “old family friends” who apparently just happened to be hemp-huffing hippies. We hope this doesn’t shake your faith in Taliban-Americans.

Meanwhile, the President finally got around to putting flags at half-staff for the Chattanooga jihad victims, although the Partisan Political Police that are the FBI still express utter bafflement at the shooter’s motivations. Several commentators have been very critical of the President’s reluctance to memorialize the deaths of service members, something he does not like very much, at the hands of an Islamic nutball, something he seems much more kindly disposed towards.

Who’s saying he lowered the flags for the victims? Maybe he did it for the shaheed, Mohammod Abdulazeez.

Note

  1. Yeah, the court hasn’t convicted him yet. But we have.

We’re From the Government, Here to Help You

fingerprint-3That’s the most chilling phrase in the English language these days.

There’s the OPM’s carelessness with security clearance files. (Careless? One server’s password was “Password.” Another had the far more secure “Password1″. But those were just two servers and they didn’t even have an inventory listing how many servers they own). The IT managers were all compensated well into the six figures for this brain-dead performance, and none of them has lost a job, a paycheck or even a performance bonus, which are automatically awarded to anyone who can fog a mirror, or even, who once did sometime in the past year. The agency spends $82 million a year on IT, and they can’t account for it.

No, we’re not kidding. We wish. Who has clearances?

  1. Every officer in the Armed Forces.
  2. Every worker in the intelligence community, uniformed, civilian or contractor.
  3. Every service member in sensitive and special operations units, as Sen. John Boozman (R-AR) noted.
  4. A large quantity of law enforcement personnel.

Friday, they let it slip that they’d also lost the digital fingerprints of all applicants.

And then there’s Veterans Affairs

VA-veterans-affairsBut wait! At least they’re not the VA. The VA is not having a good week, and as usual when the VA has a crummy time, it’s their own damn fault.

What happens when you make a disability claim? Sometimes, it ends up in a shred bin. That was a problem seven years ago, and the Department made promises of new safeguards. It’s defense now? Hey, it was only 10 vets. Close enough for government work!

But the new word is that they’ve cut the backlog of vets waiting for appointments or other care by 30% — because 30% of the vets have died while waiting. That news story analyzed this VA analytical report (.pdf).

Speaking of dead vets, the agency is so bureaucratically inept that 2.7 million of them are still on VA rolls as beneficiaries. Some of them are getting medical treatment after death, which indicates that either The Walking Dead is a documentary, or there’s a whole lot of identity theft going on.

According to the internal VA report published April 1 by the department’s Date of Death Workgroup, the records of 10 percent of veterans in the VA system indicated “activity” — they received compensation payments, visited a doctor, made an appointment or had a prescription filled — after their actual date of death.

In one case…. such a miscommunication allowed 76 prescriptions to be filled at one pharmacy for controlled substances such as oxycodone, hydromorphone and Valium.

And, according to the report, some prescriptions have been filled years after the date of death — “on average, almost 12 years after the date of death.”

No wonder they’re missing buckets of money (which we’ll get to anon) and unable to catch up with registrations. But some of the vet registration backlog dates as far back as 1996.

Speaking of that backlog, some part of it was created deliberately by misrepresenting to vets what paperwork they needed to file, so as to give VA workers a break, and a justification for ignoring applications for benefits.

In a Dec. 2013 email exchange, Lynne Harbin, deputy chief business officer of member services, discussed her intention to dodge questions posed by the American Legion about how many veterans were waiting to learn of their eligibility for VA health care.

“Note that I am skirting the issue of the numbers of pending records and instead focusing on what it means and what we are doing about it,” Harbin wrote to colleagues.

In an earlier email, Harbin expressed the VA’s need to resist asking for veterans’ discharge forms.

“Interested in hearing what the data shows, but know that politically informing veterans to give us their DD214 would be unacceptable,” Harbin wrote in a June 2012 email exchange.

They’re getting the authority to fire bad actors on VA’s staff, whether they want it or not. Would you believe they don’t want it? The measure also removes the department’s authority to reward malefactors with extra unpaid vacation, and to lavish cash awards and bonuses on them while their dismissal is pending, both of which are standard VA (and really, Federal) practice.

It’s unlikely to change anything — VA Secretary Robert McDonald opposes it, because it’s something like accountability  — but it rocketed through the House Veterans Affairs Committee on a party-line vote. The committee chairman asked, “Are you going to stand with bureaucrats or veterans?” VA Secretary McDonald, the senior leaders, the employee’s unions and the minority of the committee have said that the employees have rights, unlike the vets. The measure, which the pro-union and anti-vet Washington Post spins as “limiting employees’ appeal rights,” will be on the House floor in two weeks at the outside.

One of the useless mouths to feed that a good manager, which is to say nobody at VA, would fire is probably Lina Giampa, HR manager at the cesspool Germantown, PA regional office who spent her time tweeting threats to whistleblowers.

In Oregon, the VA’s been shifting costs around the budget by moving Hepatitis C sufferers into the Veterans Choice program, which was meant for vets who live too far from a VA facility. We’re agnostic (without more information) on whether this was a rob-Peter-pay-Paul dodge, or a brilliant bit of bureaucratic legerdemain. It seems if they did not do this, they will run out of money because of new and expensive (but, fortunately, effective) Hep C treatments. The general population has about 1% prevalence of Hep C infection, but among VA patients it’s a staggering 6%, mostly in the Vietnam demographic. Hep C is considered presumptively service-connected in Vietnam vets, as we understand it. This one paragraph gives some idea of the challenges that the VA would still have even if they were any good at what they.

Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-LA), threatened with losing a hospital in his state, ripped the department’s mismanagement, as managers told Congress that they’d somehow burned a $2.5 billion hole in their budget, and if they didn’t get more money they’d start closing hospitals, rather than rein in their own perks.

Priorities! We could see the day arrive that the entire Department of Veterans Affairs runs well and smoothly, without wasting any effort at all on the troublesome vets. That seems to be management’s objective, anyway.

Keelhauling Kate Germano, Part II

Lt. Col. Kate Germano. (Note: per her husband, she raised her own pistol qual since this official photo).

Lt. Col. Kate Germano. (Note: per her husband, she raised her own pistol qual since this official photo).

We expected to have a longer historical report — on glider troops in World War II — here in this slot today but the press of events, and new developments, suggested that we focus on what’s becoming a bigger story than it was when we wrote about it last week.

Sure, we wrote about the relief of Lt. Col. Germano, a third-generation military officer singled out for a figurative keelhauling across the barnacles of command politics and sex-linked expectations.

And the Marine Corps Times wrote about that relief (to our embarrassment, we quoted Hope Hodge Seck’s article in the MC Times extensively in our piece, without linking it. We regret the oversight; it’s our policy always to link the sources we quote from inasmuch as possible. The original article has been updated with the missing link).

Now the New York Times has written about this relief (as usual for the Times, half at least of the facts are left out in selfless service to The Narrative™). And the San Diego Union Tribune wrote about the case, in an article that seems, for its first 2/3 or so, ghostwritten by a party-line Marine PAO. Then the reporter drops this one very informative paragraph:

Although female Marines have been required to qualify with a service rifle such as the M-16 since 1985, Germano chafed against a “women can’t shoot” mentality among some in the Marine Corps. At the recruit depot, she worked with the head of Weapons and Field Training, Col. Jerry Leonard, to encourage marksmanship coaches to focus on mentoring female recruits, resulting in a bump in first-time rifle qualifications from 68 percent to 91 percent in a few months.

You can’t argue with results. Although some of Germano’s subordinates apparently did — successfully. Almost anyone can learn to shoot, and there’s nothing in the sexual dimorphism of homo sapiens that gives men an irreversible advantage. We’re astonished that any Marine unit would ever have accepted sub-70% qualification. That’s a D in our book! (Actually, in Kid’s high school, it’s an F. And a 90 is a B — they grade hard — unlike pre-Germano female Marine basic).

And there’s this:

An officer on the Parris Island depot who asked not to be named said Germano lost her job because of a difference in philosophy about the future of women in the Marine Corps. Germano is engaged, hard-driving and willing to hold her Marines accountable, the officer said: “She is the kind of strong-caliber leader the Marine Corps needs. Firm, with high expectations, fair and compassionate, willing to give second — even third — chances and the tools to get there. She doesn’t have a zero-defect mentality. She just expects her Marines to try to do the right thing,” the officer said.

Well, you can see how that might cause a conflict with some superiors. Oh, brother!

One more little detail that’s crept out since our last report — the “command climate survey” was conducted online, and word about it spread by word-of-mouth among the CO’s critics. They discovered that there was no barrier to taking the survey over, and over again. So 100 voices raised against Lt. Col. Germano may well have been one voice raised 100 times, all along; and the Marine personnel office that established the survey deliberately set it up like that; and the Marine commanders that relied on the survey knew, or should have known, its… limitations.

Now comes Aaron MacLean in the Washington Free Beacon. (It’s good; RTWT™). MacLean has some interesting parts of the back story that suggest commanders may have had their Mameluke swords out for Germano since she and the other members of a Board of Inquiry crossed them in a case where the command wanted To Make An Example Out of Somebody after he was acquitted (!) of sexual assault. Sexual assault in the military is one of the few things that the current administration’s appointees care about, and the rule of law in these cases, including such arcaic details as the rights of the accused, doesn’t enter into the picture. It’s supposed to go like this: accusation made; target identified; locked on; target destroyed. And Lt. Col. Germano (and other principled officers) stepped in front of that train and said, “No.”

Here’s MacLean’s conclusion (again, we urge you to Read The Whole Thing™). Emphasis ours:

So why was Germano fired? Was she too much of a progressive crusader? Or too conservative in her blunt opinions, especially about sexual assault? This story is more complicated than a simple morality play wherein sexist bosses grow tired of an abrasive female subordinate. It appears that Germano’s aggressiveness, not to say her political incorrectness, made her vulnerable to female subordinates who didn’t care for her style, and who then campaigned for Germano’s removal on the grounds that she insulted them over poor physical performance, and made them feel “less safe.” Germano’s bosses, already exasperated by her refusal to shut up and color on a wide array of issues, no doubt felt they were doing the Right Thing by relieving her.

Germano’s sin seems to be that she was pursuing actual respect for—and self-respect by—women in the Marine Corps, and not the fictitious appearance of equality that both her bosses, and some of her subordinates, appear to prefer.

It’s probably not possible to reinstate Lt. Col. Germano or save her career. That’s not how officer careers work under DOPMA and today’s military culture; like Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, “It can blow at any seam.”

But MacLean’s report confirms our suspicion that Lt. Col. Germano’s stand against “the soft bigotry of low expections” was instrumental in her downfall.

She can wear that with pride and honor. If there’s anybody we need to hear from about women in the services, it’s Lieutenant Colonel, soon to be, unfortunately, Retired, Kate Germano, United States Marine Corps. And by firing her, they’re setting her free to comment. They can’t back down now, but we suspect they will soon wish that they could have done.

Update

To contrast with USMC womens’ basic, MacLean linked this example of kinder, gentler, female-values-centric Army mixed-sex basic. Lord love a duck; it’s pathetic. Read that and ask: if your daughter (or son, for crying out loud) is putting on a uniform and going in harm’s way, do you want her challenged by people like Germano, or coddled by the motherly, ineffectual types in the Army story?

The Bragg “Assault Rifle at a Mall” Arrest

SGT Bryan Wolfinger, a US airborne infantryman.

SGT Bryan Wolfinger, a US airborne infantryman. And, says the press, “mall gunman.”

There are three things happening here which have very few points of congruence:

  1. Media reports, which seem to be largely fabricated by the reporters;
  2. What actually happened, which has not been widely reported;
  3. The Fayetteville PD’s relationship with the employees of the town’s dominant business, the Army, which is never widely reported.

We’ll address each of these in turn. Along the way, you’ll get to play that game that’s so much fun that people bribe politicians for the opportunity to do it for a career: You Be The Judge!™.

Media Reports

Conspiracy theories thrive, in part, because the media sucks like a giant Shop Vac, and prioritizes speed over accuracy, and Narrative™ over either. First media reports are almost always wrong. Then, they really get to work. Reporters dig in and beat the facts to fit The Narrative™.

Here are some of the headlines the news media generated:

As you can see, they generally called the individual arrested “Man with assault rifle,” “Armed soldier,” “Soldier with rifle and ammunition,” and, in one egregious case (a TV station, naturally), “Fayetteville mall gunman.”  Sure, that was technically correct in the narrow denotational sense that he was a man, did have a gun, and did go to a mall, but “mall gunman” forms a mental picture other than a guy carrying an empty, never-fired, rifle to a photo shoot for his actor’s portfolio.

wolfingers gun and gearAs the media got further from Fayetteville and the facts they changed the facts to suit The Narrative™, as they always do. The “rifle and ammunition” became a counterfactual “loaded rifle.” Another counterfactual detail conjured out of thin air by fabricating reporters was “body armor.” The Charleston church shooting and white supremacism made an appearance, introduced by some of their last True Believers, reporters. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a long-running racket that has made a succession of Northern lawyers stankin’ rich, was called on to read the mind of the accused “gunman.”

Once these media stories, with their slant, exaggerations and outright fabrications, hit the news,  the two branches of the Army that are furthest from the gun culture and firearms knowledge, the oversized PR branch and the underbrained MP branch, sounded off, uttering an instant, blanket condemnation of the soldier in question and promising that he will be punished by the military justice system, which has no truck with such primitive concepts as rights of the accused or rules of evidence: as we have seen in many Iraq and Afghanistan courts-martial, it’s a means by which commanders work their will, irrespective of law or facts, and we had a string of commanders who had been embarrassed. This guy has absolutely no chance: the prosecutors will work to nail-him-to-a-cross, and the defense attorneys, in the fine tradition of military defense attorneys since the Dreyfus case and beyond, will hand ’em the nails.

What Actually Happened

While the media were running with the story, something else was happening in Fayetteville. The police and prosecutors were trying to square the arrest they’d made, and the press statements their spokesman was making, with North Carolina law. NC is an open carry state; even if Wolfinger’s gun had been loaded, what he was doing would have been perfectly legal.

They finally found a Reconstruction-era misdemeanor: “Going armed to the terror of the public,” that had been inserted in NC law for the Union occupation forces to use to suppress “night riders” and similar proto-Klan types. The dormant law had actually been eliminated from a popular NC law book before prosecutors rediscovered it as part of today’s kitchen-sink prosecution strategy. The crime has four elements, one of which is being armed with “an unusual and dangerous weapon,” which Reconstruction-era case law established as being any firearm at all, or even no firearm, if ant person was really scared. But another element, and one that appears fully absent in this case, is that the person have intent: he must have taken up his “unusual and dangerous weapon” (which may, in fact, be no weapon but physical intimidation), “for the purpose of terrifying others.” Did Wolfinger intend to terrify others? Let’s play You Be The Judge!

Wolfinger went to the mall for a very specific reason: he was taking a portfolio photo to submit to a casting call for the next Captain America movie. Specifically, for extras in “a battlefield setting.”

After looking at the websites of the many photography shops in the Fayetteville area, he chose Picture This! Portrait Studios, one of two commercial photography shops in the Cross Creek Mall. He picked them particularly because they were experienced with green screen photography, allowing digital backgrounds to be swapped in to his photo.

As he meant to apply as a military “type” extra, along with the usual three serious-expression pictures casting directors like to see for extras, he also meant to shoot the “in character” shot that’s optional but welcome. For that, he brought his legally-owned AR-15 and a plate carrier and some magazines. After all, Picture This! says, helpfully, “You may also want to consider bringing in personal items….” Just to be sure it was safe, Wolfinger removed the firing pin from the AR, rendering it, functionally, a stick.

Little did Wolfinger know that this would land him in durance vile, with every talking head on every TV and Mark Potok of the SPLC condemning him as a racist mass murderer wannabee.

Note that under NC law, carrying the AR loaded is perfectly legal (although, as he has learned, not exactly wise). This lack of wisdom is especially significant, given the proclivities of the Fayetteville PD, of which more anon.

Someone called 911, and the police responded, and two Fayetteville cops encountered him as he was coming out. They pointed their guns at him and he obeyed their instructions. They cuffed him and then roughed him up a little. He was cooperative and gave a statement. After they latched on to the “terror of the public”  misdemeanor, Detectives tried to get him to say he was trying to scare people, but to their irritation he stuck to the truth. They finally released him to his unit first sergeant.

Detectives then questioned the photographer at great length, trying to lead her into a statement that Wolfinger had frightened her. They got a very, very weak statement. She actually liked the kid, even though she knew nothing of guns and didn’t realize that that was the prop that he was bringing.

The Fayetteville PD spokesman issued several statements which played into the media’s desire to see an American soldier as a terrorist.

Fayetteville PD versus GIs In General

Puzzled fayetteville copFirst things first: Fayetteville cops, and especially Fayetteville PD leadership, hate the Army and hate the individual GI. Hate is a strong word, but it’s the only one that fits.  (“Use the word you mean, not its second cousin” — didn’t Mark Twain say that?)

In defense of the cops, the GIs make a lot of work for them. Drunk GIs in bars. Drunk GIs in cars. GI domestic violence, usually with drinking. (Now, there’s a real problem with female couple DV in the Fort Bragg area). Guys who got ripped off by some pawn shop, buy-here-pay-here crap car-dealer, or U-Can-Rent, and guys who think that they got ripped off, but actually outsmarted themselves, and are causing a disturbance anywayLiquored-up paratroopers convinced that they can take this pudgy cop, who then proceed to do so, at least until backup arrives. And then there’s the personal problems: the GIs who wind up with the cops’ girlfriends, wives and daughters.

It’s reached the point where the GIs figure they might as well go ahead and knock up the daughters of the town’s cops, prosecutors, and judges, because they’re gonna get thumped for it, anyway. This produces suboptimal behavior on the part of all parties.

Any given night, especially Thursday through Saturday, and doubly especially around the days the eagle drops the twice-monthly paycheck, a Fayetteville PD shift sergeant can show you a fine collection of paratroopers, support troops, and even an occasional SF guy: in his drunk tank. “Support the Troops” gets worn out pretty quick in an Army town, where tens of thousands of troops are not elite combat forces but less elite, and a few of them, even, marginal, support guys. Ask a Fayetteville cop to tell you about soldier misconduct and your only problem is going to be to get him to stop: some of the things our fellow vets have done are absolutely cringe-producing, and it’s hard to blame the fuzz for developing a ‘tude about it.

However… one thing the Fayetteville Observer does from time to time is post the mugshots of recent Cumberland County accused felons. And that set is notable by its lack of GIs, considering their prevalence in the community. GIs are far outnumbered among serious criminals by many other minorities: blacks, women, Lumbee Indians. The cops don’t hate those people; it’s just business (and fact is, most of the people in all those minorities never commit a crime, so they shouldn’t hate the whole groups). But they do hate the GIs with their booze and misdemeanors, who may not be especially criminal but who are especially identifiable.

For whatever reason, they are spring-loaded in the Nail The GI position. The Fayetteville PD also has a number of other big-city-PD pathologies, including the deep-seated belief that, their dismal ND record notwithstanding, they are the Only Ones who can be trusted with this here Glock firearm.

That’s how SGT Wolfinger got from going to take an innocent he-ro photo for a casting call, to slammed in the clink on a bogus charge: he’s paying the price for every drunk trooper who was ever a no-go at the Fayetteville PD’s Respect-My-Authoritah station.

And that’s why 20 Fayetteville cops swarmed Cross Creek Mall and locked it down for an hour, after they had taken Wolfinger into custody: their leaders hate non-cops with guns, and hate soldiers especially, and were hoping to find and arrest more.

SF guys who live in and around Fayetteville tend not to display hooah stickers on our wheels. Part of that is the whole Quiet Professional thing, in general, a cultural norm which leaders try from time to time to nurture and reinforce. (This leadership is especially successful from respected NCO leaders like team sergeants and company sergeants major). But part if it is also the desire not to be singled out for reindeer games by some sorehead with a badge.

More Insight into NY Times Reporters’ and Editors’ Characters

New York Times editors and newsroom staff, during a drunken (and drugged, probably) debauch, yukking it up about a mass murder:times-fake-massacre

The bottle-and-toy-AR-wielding dork with the beard and coke-bottle glasses is Bill Keller, who was the top editor at the time. (During which, the paper approved school policies which suspended students for possession of toy firearms).

Seeing Keller and his phalanx of fools acting out their repressed fantasies might explain why they are so strong for gun control.

During his reign, the single most frequently covered story on the Times’s front page was the rampant injustice at a private golf club in Georgia, which had no women members.

Here’s Keller again, and his toadies, channeling the Heaven’s Gate suicide cult.

keller-times-heavens-gate

These morally void and mentally disturbed people think they should make the final decision on whether you can defend yourself. Isn’t that special?

Foreign Policy: Why Are ISIL Leaders Better than Iraqis?

ISIL flagNow, if this were a courtroom drama, somebody would say, “Counsel asserts facts which are not in evidence.” Because the Iraqis, yes, their leadership (especially at political level) sucks. But so does ISIL’s. They’re winning not because their Joes Jamals are better, or because their leaders are better, but because they (1) know what they’re fighting for and (2) have support.

The Iraqis, conversely, are not fighting to win, but not to lose; and they have only half-hearted, grudging support from both of their external supporters, the USA and Iran. Both nations are willing to give the Iraqis a little boost, just enough so that they don’t lose; but neither really wants the Iraqis to win. That’s why ISIL is winning: in wars where only one side commits to victory, the outcome is foreordained.

Yet the clueless, who find their geographic centroid south of Philly and north of Richmond, are writing stuff like this, reporting on the statements of others with recklessly low levels of Vitamin Clue:

Furious American policymakers blasted the Iraqis for effectively abandoning the city. The Iraqi army “was not driven out of Ramadi,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters at a NATO summit in Brussels last week. “They drove out of Ramadi.”  Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, meanwhile, used an interview Sunday to publicly accuse the Iraqis of lacking the “will to fight,” The White House quickly tried to walk the comments back, but there is little doubt Carter was speaking for many inside the Pentagon.

“Walk the comments back.” That reminds us that there are two types of suits in national-security policy positions currently: academics with fashionable ideas about how America needs to decline, and former speechwriters and spin artists who think you can lie your way out of anything.

It takes some balls for a couple of palace eunuchs like Dempsey and Carter to talk about “lacking will to fight.” We have heard that the US “airstrikes” in support of the Ramadi defense were, seven, count ’em, 7, sorties. “Here’s your bombs, little brown guys. Make ’em count.”

We don’t know where Martin Dempsey and Ash Carter got the balls to say that stuff, but they ought to spit ’em out — any balls in the possession of either one of those geldings have to belong to someone else.

These two wizards of withdrawal have been the architects of ABED: abandonment, bugout, escape, and defeat.

And they’re preparing to do the same in Afghanistan. Top. Men.

So naturally Foreign Policy, which thinks Tom Ricks is smarter than anyone who ever put on a uniform (in part, because he never put on a uniform), thinks the US has been betrayed by the Iraqis here.

The Defense chief’s comments hinted at the biggest question hanging over both the Ramadi fight and the broader push against the Islamic State: can Baghdad win the war if its generals seem to be continually out-thought and out-maneuvered by their counterparts from the militant group?

via Why Are the Islamic State’s Commanders so Much Better than the Iraqi Army? | Foreign Policy.

I don’t know if that post was Ricks — perhaps not, it’s not bursting its banks with self-regard, the very Presidential-selfie of defense reporting — but it’s the sort of miscued nonsense he’s written his whole career, and naturally he’s now orbited by young, ambitious versions of his unaware-but-never-uncertain self.

Exercise for the reader: imagine Armchair Admiral General Ricks with his never-leaves-Acelaland attitude, transported in time to World War II.

“Why can’t the Poles stand up to the Germans? Is it Hitler’s leadership?”

“Which Admirals Should Hang for Pearl Harbor?”

“Ploesti Raid: Record Casualties, Production Uninterrupted. Time to Negotiate?”

“Allies Still Bogged Down in Italy. Mussolini Rescued. Are Our Generals Goldbricking?”

It’s a fun game: Beltway Defense Journalist. Anybody can play! Unless you know something about the military and defense.

But the shucking of responsibility in the Pentagon will have serious consequences. It took us fifteen years of recovery (and a couple of wars that would have been unnecessary) to overcome the damage to our reputation illustrated by that last chopper out of Saigon.

Everybody in Iraq who trusted us has been receiving the Delta House president’s answer: “You F’d up. You trusted us.”

One of Our Favorite “Memorial” (but should be “Veterans”) Day Shorts

This short, I Fought For You, has been around for over five years, so you might have seen it already. It was put together by three upstate New Yorkers, Andrew Marzano (director), Josh Pies (script) and Dave Bode (score). It’s a little over the top — we can just see Nick Palmisciano making fun of the salute — and it’s based on the usual confusion over Veterans’ Day (for us live ones) and Memorial Day (for the dead ones) but their hearts are in the right place.

Here’s an interesting video, with the three filmmakers describing how they did it. What are people’s big complaints? The salutes… and the lack of skin-deep “diversity” among the cast. Of course, no one seemed to catch the big one that gets up our delicate-albeit-porcine nose: Memorial Day is for the fallen, not for the living veterans. Still… who gives a rat’s what color they were? They were all red, white and blue as far as we’re concerned.

Country. Hell. Handbasket. Some assembly required, you know? But these young men are trying.  There is that.

Have a great Memorial Day. Grill something, grab a discount on something — we surely will. But we’ll also take a minute to remember those who celebrate with us only in spirit this year: the ones that were our friends, and the ones that would have been, if only they had lived. They fought for us, sure, but they also fell for us. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we shall remember them. Perhaps you will be so kind as to do the same.

Meanwhile, everybody has their own way of remembering Memorial Day. The editors and writers at Salon, over the byline of one Sean McElwee, chose to get all wee-wee’d up for cutting the military to fund more social programs. (None of the people who attack our military spending compared to other nations ever note that our .mil spending is larded with earmarks, costly social experimentation, and union handouts. Having to do everything with low-quality, low-productivity, high-cost union labor — and therefore, do a lot of it over — really pads the bill).

Meanwhile, a less childish Philadelphia newsman remembers five pro athletes “fallen on the field of honor.”

More Jade Helm Assclownery

Jade Helm logo -- we bet they regret the motto now.

Jade Helm logo — we bet they regret the motto now.

You know that 5% that don’t get the word? Well, Texas isn’t just big in area, ranches, and all kinds of other measures: their 5% seems to be a lot bigger than 5%.

Of course, maybe we get that impression because we’re reading Texas media, and you’ll never escape that 5% if you’re in the default position of the modern mediot — embedded neck-deep in your own lower colon.

BIG SPRING – Military officials have negotiated contracts with local ranchers to conduct Jade Helm training on their property, according to Big Spring Mayor Larry McLellan.

However, he said residents will not be “forced out of their homes” to accommodate troops during the large-scale military exercise, scheduled to run July 15 through September 15.

McLellan had no details about the contracts supposedly offered to Big Spring homeowners. Military officials were not available to answer questions about how many ranchers were being displaced or inconvenienced due to Jade Helm, and how much they would receive in compensation.

What are these landowners being compensated for?

Now, it’s possible that some tent camps may be set up on sombody’s ranch — with his permission, while paying him a rental. But a lot of these are for training areas that SF teams and other SF troops are going to walk through. Leaving, if they’re on the ball and comporting with their training, no trace. 

How this bubble-headed TV clown gets from there to “ranchers… displaced,” we’ll never know.

It’s possible some staff section or exercise headquarters will want to rent a barn, equipment shed, or outbuilding. What happens if the landowner says no? This will probably shock the $#!+ out of you, the loyal 5% still getting your news from TV newsreaders selected for their head of hair, but in that case they thank him for his time, and go and ask some other landowner. 

Another reason private land is hired is for personnel and equipment drop zones. It’s totally obsolete, everyone agrees, but there really isn’t a better way to get a lot of teams on the ground fast 1,000 kilometers deep in a denied area than low-level static-line parachuting. Likewise, one of the best of a bad lot of ways of resupplying those teams — it’s very hard to carry more than, max, mission gear and sustenance for one lousy week — is to drop the supplies by parachute. It worked in a half-assed way for the Chindits and Marauders, it worked for the Mobile Guerilla Force in Vietnam, and it works today. With a HSLLADS or CDS bundle or two, a small team is good for up to another month.

Jade Helm operations planners previously confirmed training will only be conducted on private and public land with the permission of landowners or regional authorities.

What part of “with the permission” went over this airhead’s sole professional qualification, that is, hairdo?

One lifelong Big Spring resident told NewsWest 9 he would not accept any amount of money to surrender his home to troops.

“I support our troops, but when they’re trying to take over our civilians, that ain’t cool,” he said. “[Those are] their homes. That’s where they live.”

And… where did this guy, Timothy Yanez, get the idea he was being asked to “surrender his home?” Hint: it wasn’t from exercise planners. It came from the small brain under the hairdo. He’s answering a question she put to him — a ridiculous question, if you understand the exercise.

McLellan told NewsWest 9 residents could anticipate “[hearing] more airplane traffic,” but no other major changes.

You know, more airplane traffic. Which is how those paratroopers and resupply bundles get to those contracted drop zones in the ranches arrayed around Big Spring.

via Big Spring Landowners Paid to Accommodate Jade Helm, Says Mayor – KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |.

Contrary to ratings-driven hysteria, when our guys do need to practice door kicking, they do it with targets, dummies, or (at the very highest level of training), live, experienced and specifically trained role players inside. Not some rancher (or ranch hand’s) unsuspecting family. (Which would get our guys, who are loaded with blanks for the exercise, shot by a bunch of defensively-oriented Texans. That is, if we were dumb enough to be the dummies the news media think we are).

One last thing, a clip of this was used twice to illustrate the exercise.

channel_9_bullshit_jade_helm_report

 

Yeah. A firing party at a memorial service for KIAs in Afghanistan. You can just see it going through their well-coiffed but vacant heads: “Hey, people in uniform. Shooting guns! Must be a military exercise. Perfect action clip to illustrate that Jade Helm story.” We bet no one at the station even knew what that firing salute was or when the military uses it.

Well, they’ve got a First Amendment right to write any ill-considered and thoughtless drivel they want to. And this time, they sure did!

Some Rangerette Myths

There is a barrage of propaganda coming out of the Ranger School. There could be nothing but, with every one of the surviving female students — eight at the end of the first week — shadowed by a Corps of Commissars who broadly (no pun intended) outnumber the female Ranger candidates1, and a media scrum that nearly outnumbers all the Ranger candidates.

Rangerette 5

There have been some myths spread about this class. In the interests of further factual information, here’s some debunkistry.

Myth: women are doing better than men, percentage-wise, in this class.

Fact: They’re not, even when you don’t account for the fact that some of the 8 survivors are being propped up. Remember that these women are the distillation of a pipeline of over 130 candidates, who got extra training no active-duty men can even apply for.

Myth: the Army has made no concessions to the women.

Fact: the concessions are many, ranging from the trivial (women’s hair is cut short, but not shaved like the men) to the serious (women are given extra chances and talked out of quitting; minor negative spot reports aren’t allowed to build up against them).

Rangerette 4

Myth: the women are a cross-section of Army women.

Fact: the women are a small, self-selected cadre of ambitious careerists. It is our understanding that all are officers.

Rangerette 1

Myth: As women increase their presence in combat units, they’ll be more likely to be raped. Because men in combat arms are “predators.” This is what Defense Secretary Ash Carter told an audience of ROTC cadets recently:

Obviously, as we get women into more unaccustomed positions, maybe dangerous isolated positions, maybe positions where they are fewer in relation to the number of men, it opens up opportunities for predators

Fact: You’re joking, right? Ash Carter makes Joe Biden look like the Great Gravitas Himself. He has no military experience whatsoever, and if he ever came out of the ivory tower, when he saw his own shadow we’d have six more weeks of winter. It’s not surprising he says stupid [stuff]. He didn’t stop there, either. He also hinted to the cadets that he intends to open all positions to women when the review is complete in 2016.

Meanwhile, Carter has quietly withdrawn 1,900 soldiers, 38 Black Hawk slicks, 12 medevac Black Hawks, as 12 heavy-lift Chinooks and 28 Apache attack helicopters from Europe to the United States as part of his unilateral drawdown of US forces worldwide. Instead, smaller elements will deploy for a few months at a time. A DOD spokesman insisted that less was more:

The net result of this restructuring is that Army aviation assets in Europe will be more ready, present, and operationally flexible. This is particularly important in the current strategic environment.

Our forces in Europe will be more ready, present, and flexible, hooah! They just won’t be in Europe!

In other news from the DOD, War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and We Have Always Been at War with Eastasia.

If Ash Carter diminishes American air capability in Europe any further, he can expect Hermann Göring’s ghostly shade to manifest itself, and bestow on him the German Cross in Gold, the Knight’s Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, or some other high decoration.

These guys seem like harmless, amusing buffoons, until you realize that some one has plucked them out of their cozy libraries and put them in charge of complex systems they don’t understand.

Notes

  1. There are 31 female Commissars, or as they are officially called, Observer/Advisors. The course began with 19 women. Currently, there are roughly 4 OAs watching out for each woman. The number will rise as the women attrit further.

Micromanagement, Media, and JADE HELM 15

New York TimesIn a post on military corruption on Strategy Page, which is, as usual on that site of wargamer geeks turned armchair experts, all over the place, there’s a little on micromanagement and the media. We’ll pick it up, then, in the middle:

Examples of micromanagement were abundant in the recent Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Washington often had to be consulted before sensitive attacks were made (like having a Predator UAV launch a Hellfire missile at some guy on the ground who might be Osama bin Laden, or some tall Afghan with a beard, a new SUV, and a commanding manner). The JCS Command Post was an attempt to deal with this problem. The JCS and the Secretary of Defense are the president’s senior, and most frequent, military advisors. Ultimately, the buck stops with the JCS. So by plugging the JCS into a world-wide command system, politically sensitive decisions can be resolved quickly (in minutes, or at least in less than an hour). The more frequent contact between the president, the Secretary of Defense, and the JSC with combat commanders might build up a degree of trust that would enable sensitive decisions to be made more quickly. This would happen, in a best case situation, because the JCS Command Post had developed confidence in the judgment of the commanders out there.

But the JCS Command Post has just become another layer of management that slows down decision making without improving the ability of the troops to get the job done. To solve this problem it’s proposed that the CINC be reduced to the status of a staff officer. The CINC and his people (several hundred staff officers and support troops) would be the repository of knowledge about the local situation and would take care of all those logistical and support details that enable the combat operations to happen. So far, the CINCs have successfully resisted this, but it’s happening anyway whenever the folks back in Washington want to throw their considerable weight around.

Speaking of staff work, one thing combat staffs are increasingly concerned with is how to deal with politically delicate situations that the media could run with (often in uncomfortable directions). This sort of thing has been seen frequently since September 11, 2001. For example, when sandstorms seemed to have “stalled” the American advance on Baghdad in 2003, the president, or at least the Secretary of Defense, had to be in touch with the commanders inside the sand storm and then say something to the press that would defuse the story and wouldn’t blow up later if it proved to be false. For those who didn’t catch the follow up on the stand storm, the troops were delayed by the need to resupply (especially fuel for their very thirsty M-1 tanks) and the storm actually helped because the Iraqis thought they could safely move Republican Guard divisions under cover of it. They couldn’t, as there were American satellites, UAVs, and sensors on the ground that could see right through the sand. Iraqi tanks and troops got shot up on a massive scale before they realized that the airborne sand blinded them more than the Americans.

via Leadership: Corruption In The American Military.

The media, of course, reported the sandstorm story completely differently. It’s important to remember that they’re not anti-war, exactly, they’re just on the other side. They seem to “go there” reflexively, whoever the “other” is: whether it’s the Sandinistas, the Syrians of ISIL, or the Symbionese Liberation Army, if it’s against America, newshounds are all for it.

Hell, they don’t even see ISIL as an enemy when it’s beheading their fellow journalists. (What do they think? “That really sucks for him, there goes his Pulitzer?”) They don’t seem to react to these things like normal human beings, these mole men of the media.

jh_logoAnd now the JADE HELM 15 “controversy,” which is only a controversy to the extent that the informed (including you, dear readers) find themselves at cross-purposes with the ignorant, penetrates the mainstream media.

The Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe, the sort of reporter who reads a couple of books and becomes the paper’s military expert (for heaven forfend they would pollute their newsroom with an actual, you know, veteran), is a latecomer to the JADE HELM 15 story, and doesn’t entirely get it, but unlike the conspiracy theorists he understands the difference between exercise/notional national entities remapped onto real terrain, and the real-world, non-exercise, persons and institutions on that terrain. Note his “for the purpose of training” below:

The mission is vast both geographically and strategically: Elite service members from all four branches of the U.S. military will launch an operation this summer in which they will operate covertly among the U.S. public and travel from state to state in military aircraft. Texas, Utah and a section of southern California are labeled as hostile territory, and New Mexico isn’t much friendlier.

…the military has routinely launched exercises in the past in which regions of the United States are identified as hostile for the purpose of training.

He then cites several other examples, including some we didn’t know about because they’re conventional exercises of the Sea Services off and onshore in the Southeast, and some we’ve mentioned already, like Robin Sage.

Lamothe has no higher levels of Vitamin Clue than you would expect to find behind a keyboard at the Post, but he’s trying, and that rare degree of effort sets him apart from his peers. He actually contacted a USASOC spokesman and got a quote from him.

What he seems to be missing is that the large areas and cross-jurisdiction operations are necessary to exercise, not special operations actions-on-the-objective, but special ops logistics, the true crux of a global SOF capability. While every SF, SEAL, MARSOC and AFSOC element on the ground will be exercising their thing, the command as a whole will be shaking down the ability to insert, communicate with, command & control, supply, reinforce, and extract special operations forces across realistic distances (1000 km — 1000 miles). Having trained guys who can train, lead, capture and destroy is a fine capability but as we have stressed before, it is no use at all if you can’t get it there. 

night tailgate

Night, tailgate. One way to get it there. Static safety officer on left.

 

We don’t know how many teams deploy in JADE HELM 15, but in a 1980s Flintlock, a deployed SFOB (today’s JSOTF forerunner) handled some 54 SF teams and a few foreign or combined teams and SEAL platoons directly, and another 6-18 SF teams through an FOB that was stood up by a Reserve or Guard SF unit. Every one of these had to be delivered and recovered, and in between, fed and supplied; plus there were other missions that required inter-service coordination, like Fulton STAR recoveries and F-111 beacon-bombing missions. To understand SOF, you really need to have experienced both the field, team environment, and the Support, Signal and Operations centers of the deployed SFOB or JSOTF. It’s much easier to train a team than it is to train a Group, let alone an entire joint-service theater special operations command. It’s like the difference between combat-training a rifle platoon and preparing the Invasion of Sicily.

Now deprecated: Fulton STAR system

Now deprecated: Fulton STAR system

As cool as the stories of the OSS Jeds and OGs and their SOE mates are — and believe us, they’re cool, and we have some more to share with you Real Soon Now™ — the real accomplishment was in the relatively unsung loggies of the “Shetland Bus,” the Carpetbaggers, the OSS Maritime Unit and the construction and development of communications site, staffs and procedures. (Indeed, SOE’s biggest failure came about because they expanded too fast and violated their own communications security procedures. But that is another story).