Monday, July 23, 2007

USA Decline Indicated by Height Changes in Other Countries

You want pseudo-scientific Crap. Read this article from the AssPress, and the commentary at BNN.

Feingold Wants President Censured

Well, you can't pass any resolution to get impeachment, can't get a resolution to defund the war, can't get a resolution to stop the war, I suppose all he's got left, except for the incipient whining is to call for censure. What a piece of crap.
The Senator from Wisconsin then laid out his two part basis for censure. “One, on their getting us into the war of Iraq—in Iraq and their failure to adequately prepare our military and the misleading statements that have continued throughout the war in Iraq. And the second, on this administration’s outrageous attack on the rule of law, all the way from the illegal terrorist surveillance program to their attitude about torture, which we heard a little bit about today on this show. This administration has assaulted the Constitution. We need to have on the historical record some kind of indication that what has happened here is, in the words of Director McConnell, as you just quoted him, disastrous. Somehow we have to address that. And I think it’s a good time to begin that process.”
What a pin-head. If any of that had grounding in reality they would have had at least some grounds for impeachment. I love that he thinks they need something more for the historical record. Not that his wailing about the war hasn't been recorded sufficiently.

As to disastrous, Feingold may want to unplug his head from his ass and actually look at historical perspective on all wars, not just insurgencies like the one we are presently involved in. They all have bad spells and most start off on the wrong foot.

You have to wonder if any politician has ever actually read a bit of history.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Spineless Bastards

With all their whining about Iraq, you'd think the leadership would at least follow through.
Reid made his point with a 41-37 vote to instruct the Senate Sergeant-at-arms to request absent senators to attend Senate proceedings he had promised through the night. More to the point, nobody wanted to be the next Bob Packwood, the Oregon Republican carried feet-first into the chamber under a similar directive in 1988.

Turns out Reid had no intention of enforcing that motion, what with the assortment of senators over 80 who could not be expected to show up through the night for live quorum calls.

Speaking of those mandatory attendance tallies, Reid changed his mind about how many, and when. He had originally planned holding one around 3 a.m. and another at 7 a.m. But that changed during the midnight vote when Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., made the case against senatorial sleep deprivation and impugned Reid to push the quorum call back.

Reid, who had his very own cot waiting for him in a quiet parlor off his office, agreed. Next live quorum call, he announced: 5 a.m. With a few cases of bed-head among them, senators rolled in and again passed the same motion to instruct. This time the motion passed 37-23, with dawn beginning to break by the time the tally was completed.

For all his bluster, he's just as big a loser as all the other politicos that have held that position.

Maybe more so.

Homer and the Pagans

This advertising is just what you'd expect from the Simpsons. It's really quite funny.
BBC Photo:

The reaction of the Pagan community is quite funny. Rain dances indeed.

Ann Bryn-Evans, joint Wessex district manager for The Pagan Federation, said: "We were hoping for some dry weather but I think I have changed my mind.

"We'll be doing some rain magic to bring the rain and wash it away."

She added: "I'm amazed they got permission to do something so ridiculous. It's an area of scientific interest."

Looks to me like the Homer character is on a separate property. Probably didn't need any permission at all.

Instead of griping, they should just get some water soluble paints and deface the Homer image. A little clever alterations in the night could be quite funny and make a point.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lead and Fools

These people are pathetic. Can't get the Gun Club that they moved in next to shut down, so they hold out to the end about lead poisoning.
Paul Sullivan and Bruce McClure paint a frightening picture: Dozens of buried caches of toxic clay pigeons and hundreds of tons of lead leaching into ground and surface water sources – basically a 118-acre toxic waste yard near their homes.

It’s a frightening picture, but one that isn’t necessarily accurate.
Let's see, the club's been there since 1966, so it's been there a long time. Wonder what they were thinking when they moved in? Or did they bother thinking at all? Guessing the latter.
Sullivan and McClure, both Hollis residents, are convinced the ongoing battle waged before the planning board between the hunter’s club and some nearby residents should be less about noise from the club’s gun ranges and more about the “toxic waste” they say is leaching from expended bullets and old clay pigeons into nearby wells.

That’s not all, the pair says. Nashua residents also should be concerned because, they say, the nearby Nashua River is being contaminated.
His evidence:
McClure is armed with a pile of maps of the property detailing the ranges’ dimensions, where he believes wetlands and buffer areas located, and pictures he’s taken of what he calls pollution on the club’s property.

The pictures show what he says are old lead pellets and shell casings and piles of old clay target pigeons buried around the property’s outskirts. There are more pictures showing where he believes water is running off the club’s skeet/trap range into nearby wetlands and into the ground water, as well as into the Nashua River as storm runoff.

“This is flowing right through Nashua,” Sullivan said. “I’m in complete fear of what’s going in the water. Maybe not today, but it’s on its way.”
“You can have a shooting range and not have anything in the water, even with a lot of lead shot on the ground,” Liptak said. “There are issues in some areas, but there are other areas where there are no problems.”

Shooting near water isn’t automatically a problem, he said, because lead isn’t very mobile, meaning it takes a long time to leach out of bullets and into ground and surface water.

Whether lead shells on the ground are a problem depends on a number of factors, including the type of soil, amount and intensity of rainfall, the pH of rain and ground water, vegetation and topography, according to the EPA Web site.
Prunier said that when Sullivan took pictures of the property, it was shortly after the April 16 floods. It would have been hard to find a place anywhere in Hollis that wasn’t wet in those days, he said.
An environmental study by Jaworski Geotech Inc. in July 2004 stated the soil at the club’s skeet/trap range didn’t show high concentration lead levels. The soil near the rifle range did, but the water near that range did not, according to the report.

But a letter from Liptak pointed out where more work and data are needed and asked for more extensive testing at the club’s old, unused skeet range, as well as better data regarding lead levels in groundwater. DES officials also conducted a site walk on the property.

“Given the extent of lead shot in the environment at the site, the department recommends that long-term groundwater monitoring wells be installed,” Liptak wrote. “DES is concerned there is lead shot present at the site, which has potential to be an ongoing source of lead that can continue to leach to groundwater.”
What a surprise the DES didn't like a professional study company's results. I've dealt with this type of auditor in a previous life and they never are beyond forcing you to do something more. Gotta justify that job ya know.

As far as I can see, this is proof that the neighbors are jackass' and they are also idiots. Who moves in near a gun range and ignores the noise and the potential for lead contamination? A major league imbecile, that's who.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Iraq War Death Spiral

Being the pessimist I've always been, it looks to me that the spiral to failure is finally becoming obvious. With the likes of Lugar, Gregg, Snow, and all the other fools becoming incontinent over Iraq, we have truly reached the point where it's clear that the crash will occur.

Krauthammer points out how they've essentially abandoned Petraeus when he likely has a clear understanding of what is needed and how to evolve in the counterinsurgency.
We don't yet know if this strategy will work in mixed Sunni-Shiite neighborhoods. Nor can we be certain that this cooperation between essentially Sunni tribal forces and an essentially Shiite central government can endure. But what cannot be said -- although it is now heard daily in Washington -- is that the surge, which is shorthand for Gen. David Petraeus's new counterinsurgency strategy, has failed. The tragedy is that, just as a working strategy has been found, some Republicans in the Senate have lost heart and want to pull the plug.

It is understandable that Sens. Lugar, Voinovich, Domenici, Snowe and Warner may no longer trust President Bush's judgment when he tells them to wait until Petraeus reports in September. What is not understandable is the vote of no confidence they are passing on Petraeus. These are the same senators who sent him back to Iraq by an 81 to 0 vote to institute his new counterinsurgency strategy.

A month ago, Petraeus was asked whether we could still win in Iraq. The general, who had recently attended two memorial services for soldiers lost under his command, replied that if he thought he could not succeed he would not be risking the life of a single soldier.

Gotta love Krauthammer for giving us links to his discussion points. Few opinion writers are willing to lead you to the information they're discussing.

Then there is MICHAEL O'HANLON AND JASON CAMPBELL discussing The metrics of progress. No surprise, they are the same as they have been all along. Security, economy, politics, etc. This part on Politics I think is a bit deceptive.
Politics. This will probably be the deciding factor in our September debate, as it should be. Gen. Petraeus is fond of saying that politics are 80% of any counterinsurgency operation, and military efforts only 20%. Regardless of whether or not that ratio is right, the broad message is hard to deny. The recent Iraqi decision to forward a draft hydrocarbons bill to the full parliament is not an adequate accomplishment in this regard (as the administration's report rightly recognized): Actual results that begin to affect daily life and governance are needed.
The 80/20 ratio may be true in the measure of the counterinsurgency overall, but in certain periods it's a lot more military than politics. Without the security the military provides and enforces, the political will just won't appear. At the moment I'd say the ration is closer to 50/50.

The end result is still disheartening. I don't think the US has the political will to take this to the best conclusion. They may not even have the will to take it to a neutral conclusion. Sadly the loud mouths on Capital Hill are proving they care more about political BS than they do about the overall success and security of the country.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Not a Dumbass

Hmm. I've been getting harassed at work about this type of thing.

You Are a Smart American

You know a lot about US history, and you're opinions are probably well informed.

Congratulations on bucking stereotypes. Now go show some foreigners how smart Americans can be.

Frankly, this test was bafflingly simple. (Though I'm certain I got at least one wrong.)

H/T Damnum Absque Injuria

Senatorial Stupidity

Blue New England Senators flop over on Iraq. What a shock.
Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and New Hampshire’s Judd Gregg and John Sununu are firmly in that camp. So too Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Robert Bennett of Utah, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, Richard Lugar of Indiana, George Voinovich of Ohio and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. And it’s not just that their ranks are growing; it’s that those ranks include voices that have always spoken with sound and sober judgment on issues of foreign policy.
Let's not bother doing the right thing, especially if you're up for election.

Sununu and Gregg may be centrists, but they definitely prove that they are also spineless. No doubt they'll lose their next election because those that support them will lose confidence in them and just not bother voting.

The most offensive part is these morons can't even wait for the short time that the surge was originally given to expire before pissing themselves. Even the NYTimes has credited the surge with having beneficial effects, but since we can't actually have any patience in this country, we gotta panic and run even before we know if we are succeeding.

Another Idea for Terrorist Courts

Personally, I think the present system is just fine. I really could care less how the world sees us with regards to those who would murder us. It's fairly simple. Maybe the EU wants to understand the Terrorists pain, me I'd rather see them locked up or just plain dead.

Well, if they are going to have the discussion again, this isn't too bad, though it is a bit vague on exactly what rights would be handed to terrorists.
Such a court would have a number of practical advantages over the current system. It would operate with a Congressionally approved definition of the enemy. It would reduce the burden on ordinary civilian courts. It would handle classified evidence in a sensible way. It would permit the judges to specialize and to assess over time the trustworthiness of the government and defense lawyers who appear regularly before them. Such a court, explicitly sanctioned by Congress, would have greater legitimacy than our current patchwork system, both in the United States and abroad.

Criminal prosecutions should still take place where they can. But they are not always feasible. Some alleged terrorists have not committed overt crimes and can be tried only on a conspiracy theory that comes close to criminalizing group membership. In addition, the evidence against a particular detainee may be too difficult to present in open civilian court without compromising intelligence sources and methods. And the standards of proof for evidence collected in Afghanistan might not meet every jot and tittle of American criminal law.

It's interesting at least.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

New Toy and Photos

Got a digital SLR recently and was playing a bit today.

This is a pond in NH near where I live. I walk around them once and a while for some peace and quiet.

This was in the woods. I believe it's a turks cap or something like that.

And these are in bloom in most of the ponds. Not the best flower, but it was the only one I could get close too.

It's quite a quiet place this time of year, mainly because people don't seem to be able to take the insects.

It's been pretty dry around here and the water levels are down so you can see the stone walls that are underwater most of the year.

I suppose I need to figure out how to take pictures. I see lots on thing I find striking, the problem is that I'm not really sure how to photograph them so that they are interesting or something others will enjoy.

Eh. Not so much a hobby as something to remind me of what is out there.

Friday, July 06, 2007

When Buying a MILITARY Helicopter, Ignore Landrieu

Let's see. Helicopter for primary mission for heavy lift military purposes. Chinook. Yeah, that looks right. Now for some interesting reason morons from Louisiana are protesting against providing that type of aircraft because it wasn't appropriate for personnel rescue after a hurricane. Someone is completely missing what their primary purpose is.
Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) is urging the Secretary of the Air Force, Michael Wynne, to consider the lessons learned from the rescue missions after Hurricane Katrina when selecting a new combat search and rescue helicopter.

The Air Force’s selection of Boeing's CH-47 Chinook helicopter last November has been plagued by controversy and criticism both on the Hill and in the industry. The program is currently stalled following several rounds of legal filings by Lockheed Martin and Sikorsky, the other two competitors in the program.

With a letter addressed to Wynne on July 3, Landrieu, who is on the appropriations committee but not the defense subcommittee, is wading into the controversy by providing direct accounts from rescues in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

According to her letter, rescuers who wanted to save as many people as possible from the rooftops of a devastated New Orleans, “unknowingly put some citizens at great risk by simply using the CH-47 Chinook helicopters.”

The Chinook’s twin rotor created downwash and had to be removed from conducting rescue missions, Landrieu wrote. Consequently, the Chinooks were reassigned to transporting survivors, food and sandbags.

“In this capacity the Chinooks performed well but the downwash made them dangerous in direct rescue missions,” Landrieu said. The massive whirlwind created by the Chinook could have possibly drowned the people the Army was trying to save, she explained. Landrieu quoted the head of the Army National Guard, Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, as saying that the need for a small and versatile helicopter became more apparent after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

So the lesson learned by Landrieu is that Chinooks shouldn't be given to the military because they aren't appropriate for civilian rescues. Though they are completely adequate for their primary military mission. I also want to know of a helicopter that doesn't have a down wash. From what I recall of the physics of the average helicopter, that's how they stay in the air.

I really love the small and versatile helicopter idea. Bet heavy lifting will go real well with small and versatile copters. "Sorry guy's. Can't get you that artillery because our helicopters can't lift the howitzer."

What's next, going to get rid of the Apache because it can't carry enough civilians in a rescue?

How about some of these politicians unplug their craniums from their anus and look at what their primary use is and take a second and actually think about the consequences of replacing the heavy lifters with something that will not be able to do the job.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

MSM - Report the Lie, Ignore the Truth

The Patriotic Journalists throughout the MSM have been reporting this lie as reported at Pajamas Media:
On Thursday, June 28, The Associated Press—and to a lesser extent, Reuters, and a small independent Iraqi news agency—ran stories claiming that 20 decapitated bodies had been found on or near the banks of the Tigris River in Um al-Abeed, a village near Salman Pak, southeast of Baghdad.

By 8:10, Thursday morning, I’d fired off the first of a series of queries to Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) Public Affairs and current and former liaisons with the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior Civilian Police Assistance Training Team (CPATT) Public Affairs Office, asking what they knew of this claim. I was immediately suspect because of the dubious sourcing prominently noted in one version of the original Associated Press story:

The dead — all men aged 20 to 40 years old — had their hands and legs bound, and some of the heads were found next to the bodies, the officers said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information. The bodies were found in the Sunni Muslim village of Um al-Abeed, near the city of Salman Pak, which lies 14 miles southeast of Baghdad. One of the police officers is based in Baghdad and the other in Kut, 100 miles southeast of the capital. The Baghdad officer said he learned of the discovery because Iraq’s Interior Ministry, where he works, sent troops to the village to investigate. The Kut officer said he first heard the report through residents of the Salman Pak area.

Some other versions of the story (indeed, the most common variation) carried by American and international media outlets buried the distant locations of the two anonymous police sources six paragraphs further down in the story, under an account of a bus station bombing in Baghdad.

One can only guess why the Associated Press saw fit to distance the claim from the location of the sources, and only the editors at Fox News saw and corrected the Associated Press story to correctly pair the paragraphs stating the claimed mass beheading and the distant location of the story’s anonymous “police” sources.

And yet they ignore the town that Michael Yon finds:
The firefight progressed. American missiles were fired. The enemy might have been trying to bait Iraqi and American soldiers into ambush, but it did not work. The village was riddled with bombs, some of them large enough to destroy a tank. One by one, experts destroyed the bombs, leaving small and large craters in the unpaved roads.

The village was abandoned. All the people were gone. But where?

I told the Iraqi commander, Captain Baker, that it was important that Americans see this; he took me around the graves and showed more than I wanted to see. He said the people had been murdered by al Qaeda. I made video of him speaking, and of the horrible scene. The heat and stench were crushingly oppressive and broken only by the sounds of shovels as Iraqi soldiers kept digging.
Yon has another post questioning why the MSM isn't playing.
In my dispatch, I reported that six people were killed, but mentioned that Iraqi soldiers were still digging out bodies when I left. A few hours ago, Colonel Hiduit put the number at 10-14, and said the search for bodies had ended. I made video of the graves, bodies and of interviews with Iraqi and American soldiers while we still were at the scene and have been working to make material from this available on this website.

As the investigation unfolds more pertinent details, I’ll continue to update the story. But the biggest question rippling across the internet–“Why hasn’t the mainstream media picked this up?” –is something only representatives of mainstream media can answer.

In fairness, several large outlets did publish it online: National Review Online and Fox News were both quick to place the story prominently on their websites. A few others also published excerpts. It was even briefly up on the Drudge Report. On the blog front, Instapundit, Hugh Hewitt, Blackfive, Andrew Sullivan, Captain’s Quarters and many others picked it up.

But for those publications who actually had people embedded in Baqubah when the story first broke and still failed to cover it, their malaise is inexplicable. I do not know why all failed to report the murders and booby-trapped village: apparently no reporters bothered to go out there, even though it’s only about 3.5 miles from this base. Any one of the reporters currently in Baqubah could still go to these coordinates and follow his or her nose and find the gravesites.

You have to admit that this is rather telling. Well documented evidence vise a completely non-vetted story is a hard decision to make. Well, that is unless the story doesn't meet your political bend.

Pajamas Media continues:
Ultimately, the Associated Press and Reuters published stories —far less prominently than the initial beheading stories— admitting that their prior claims of a mass beheading were without merit, with Reuters adding:
Verifying reports in Iraq is very hard for journalists, who have been systematically targeted by different militant groups and rely extensively on local sources for information.

Paris-based press freedom advocates Reporters Without Borders estimate that over 180 journalists and media assistants have been killed since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003, making Iraq the most dangerous place in the world to report.

Reuters is absolutely correct: reporting in Iraq is very dangerous work, and insurgent groups and terrorists do target journalists for assassination.

But it is equally true that insurgent groups and terrorists also use the media to plant false stories, and that media organizations consistently fail to find credible, independent sources to verify alleged atrocities and attacks before presenting an alleged story as fact.

Further, it appears that some news organizations, through a combination of questionable news-gathering techniques, insufficient editorial practices and indifferent -perhaps intractable- management, are more susceptible to running false and fabricated stories than others, with the Associated Press and Reuters being among the worst offenders.

Throughout the Iraq War, and with seemingly increasing frequency over the past year, these media outlets have become increasingly reliant upon anonymous sources and questionable sources hiding behind pseudonyms to deliver “news” with no apparent basis in fact.

In some of these instances, these wire services have been forced to retract days later, as they have with the false Um al-Abeed beheading story. Sadly, the international and national news outlets that often carry the initial claims as “page one” material fail to do so with the refutations, leaving most media consumers with the impression that the original account was accurate.

So, should the public take the "Journalists" point that they are more dependable than the bloggers? Or should we all look at the evidence and judge that they are no better, and in some cases far worse.?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Job Descriptions

No link, reality.

I was sent the following job description by a headhunter. They seem to think that this is a reasonable description of a QA job. The problem I have is that this is so vague that frankly I have no idea what they expect.

Senior QA Engineers

Summary: Senior QA Engineers are responsible for the development and execution of test plans including functional and system testing for our product line. Successful candidates will have QA experience working in both Windows and Linux environments and with networks dealing with LANs and WANs.

Role and Responsibilities:
Develop and execute test plans for a single component or a suite of components.
Work independently and closely with other QA Engineers to identify, isolate, and verify open issues during the QA test cycle.
Provide accurate descriptions of issues found and issues resolved using bug tracking software.
Set up a network within a test lab environment including configuring and connecting NIC cards, routers, switches, bridges, and hubs.

5 + years experience
Experience working in a Linux environment
Knowledge of TCP/IP networks
Experience with appliance-based products
Strong test plan experience
System test experience including kernel, stress, and performance testing
Excellent communications skills
Now when I consider a job and the interview, I want to know what they want the candidate to actually do. This is so vague that its like sending a job description saying they're looking for someone that is familiar with airplanes and airports. (TCP/IP is a plane - routers, switches etc are airports.) So who should interview for that position? A pilot or a luggage handler?

Am I missing something? Is this the new way to find workers?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Missed Opportunity

This article (opinion) from the Armed Forces Journal.
An examination of U.S. military operations in Iraq reveals several deficient policies. And although there is no guarantee that a change in these tactics would have assured stability in Iraq, ignoring these omissions will increase the likelihood of replicating our experiences in Iraq and elsewhere in future conflicts.
One specific policy would make a major difference, but it has not been previously understood or widely advocated: using indigenous personnel for a greater amount of the contracted defense logistics. This is an essential method of ensuring stability and security in a post-conflict environment. By using indigenous contractors in support of coalition forces in Iraq, several positive improvements would be made for coalition forces and the Iraqi population.

Stability and support operations are not new phenomena. Since nations and societies began engaging in wars of conquest, armies that conquered territory needed to pacify the people and make the newly gained territory suitable to produce benefits for the conquerors. Rome installed governors and demanded tribute; the modern imperial powers (Britain, France and Spain) established colonies and repressed the populations. Repressive methods are no longer acceptable, and the most successful approach to stability and support operations has been to interact with the conquered population. In post-war Germany and Japan, many of the needed supplies were procured locally, rebuilding the German and Japanese economies. In the present context, the U.S. needed to rebuild infrastructure and civil society after the liberation of Iraq to stabilize and democratize that country. Stability and support operations are the methods by which the U.S. attempts to achieve this goal.

In recent testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Toby Dodge of the Institute for International Strategic Studies articulated how the U.S. arrived at its current situation in Iraq. He identified the removal of the power of the state, its bureaucracies and its military as an enforcement mechanism as the leading cause of the insurgency. The state failure in Iraq has led to a complete breakdown of civil society and fostered civil, ethnic and sectarian strife that has made stability and reconstruction a dim prospect. The lack of basic services or police to protect citizens has increased lawlessness and politically motivated violence. It is because the Iraqis lost other alternatives to ensure their safety and the safety of their families that they decided to become criminals or join militias.

That's a difficult one to state without a great deal of reservation.

First there is the problem of who would provide the logistical support. It has been quite evident that the only groups at the start of the peace with the ability to provide those levels of logistical support were mainly former Baathist party members who frankly had no reason to assist. This also raises the topic of corruption that has been railed against in the MSM, though is not an uncommon method of business in Iraq.

May goes into the problem of logistics and the military structures that didn't exist to take advantage of the locals.
Defense logistics has always been a complex and demanding task for the military. Over the past few decades, it has become fashionable for the military to contract many elements of its logistical requirements to private companies. As we analyze defense logistics and its role in stability and support operations, we seek to understand whether different methods of procuring defense logistics are able to develop economic infrastructure in post-conflict operations. To answer this question, we must ask three supporting questions:

• Does the U.S. military require external logistical contracting?

• Can Iraqi contractors conduct work similar to U.S. companies?

• Will the effect of contracting with indigenous companies be beneficial for the local community?

The military must be ready at a moment's notice for any situation imaginable. Developing a system of logistics to support a force that can go anywhere in the world is complex and costly. Moreover, a typical military operation requires more logistical support than combat forces. Combat forces are mobilized and deployed at a faster rate than logistics forces; logistics forces take much longer to get to a theater of operations because of their lower priority and greater space requirements. To counter this burden, the military developed a program for each branch of the armed services under which private companies can provide logistical support for contingency operations anywhere in the world.

The supply of our personnel is where I part ways with the use of local suppliers. There is a great deal of built in risk with that methodology. Partially because the troops require a level of stable provisioning that likely cannot be provided locally, but also there needs to be a way to address threats from the local insurgencies trying to kill the troops. No doubt some amounts of logistics can be provided. Building materials and refuse removal being simple examples.
Iraqi companies and contractors would not have been able to meet the requirements from Day One, but an evolutionary development of logistical networks within Iraq could have been implemented. This effort could have begun with small contracts for nonperishable goods and services, such as laundry and bottled water, that then would increase in scope and size as Iraqi contractors showed their proficiency and professionalism. Building up the economic networks that the invasion destroyed would have rebuilt economic infrastructure and brought money into the local community.
Hmm. Personally, I doubt I'd be very happy drinking water provided by the locals. Cleanliness requirements aren't controlled even in this country, how would you assure them from a provider in Iraq? Just one shipment of bad or intentionally tampered with water would be sufficient to kill or dramatically harm a large number of service people. Professionalism is a nice spin word, but isn't relevant when you have an intensely interested party trying to kill you by any means possible. I'd even be reticent toward having laundry services.

No doubt May has an overall point of the use of local logistics for providing economic relief and incentives. The issue must be more carefully controlled when you're addressing supplies that directly impact the health and therefore the life of the troops.

Dissent and the Generals

This post from Friday at Intel-Dump discusses the present Generals and dissent from below. I think this holds true for most wars, though I wonder how either side of the argument can make a clear analysis seeing that both parties are not disinterested.
Greg Jaffe writes in today's Wall Street Journal (alt link) about the intellectual battles gripping the U.S. Army as the force struggles to persevere in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fights revolve around fundamental questions of soldiering and leadership, like how to face emerging threats such as insurgencies, how to shape the force for "full spectrum" operations, and how to best select, train and promote Army leaders. Jaffe's piece suggests that these debates rival those which occurred after Vietnam, when a generation of officers argued similar questions as part of the Army's rebuilding in the 1970s and 1980s. The difference, of course, is that we're still at war, making these contemporary discussions somewhat unprecedented.
Discourse and dissent are healthy for a military organization. As I wrote a few days ago, warfare is a complex endeavor where the common denominators are chance, uncertainty, and chaos. Vigorous discussion of core assumptions and strategies is critical; sharp criticism is essential for that discussion. The intellectual arrogance displayed thus far by America's caste of generals and senior Pentagon officials has been startling, and stunningly myopic. It virtually guarantees that we will adopt stale, inflexible strategies with zero chance of success.

When I've engaged senior leaders on these questions, I've gotten back answers which were some variation of "You don't understand, captain, because you haven't been there at my level." Quite right, I haven't. The closest I've come to that level is a year as a division planner, and a short tour in the Pentagon. My riposte? "Sir, you don't understand, because you haven't been there either."
There is a problem though that isn't addressed and that comes from the Generals being answerable to politicians. Not the CIC specifically, but to the politicos who perpetually whine about how the US is failing while completely ignoring that patience is needed for the present conflict. Senator Lugar again proves this point in that his recent speech completely ignores realities on the ground and further slows integration of new tactics. Unfortunately, the Generals have little choice but to stand up and speak the truth to the politicians, who will continue to ignore reality.

The Captains and Colonels that are complaining now will likely find themselves in similar straights in the future as they have in the past. As with all large institutions, change isn't something that comes fast. But they can at least try to force change and allow change at the levels that they have control of.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Kilcullen on the Surge

Lugar may actually want to read this article, since he recently proved himself completely clueless on the topic. One may also note that the MSM has essentially ignored most of the facts, historical or professional on the topic.
This post is not about whether current ops are “working” — for us, here on the ground, time will tell, though some observers elsewhere seem to have already made up their minds (on the basis of what evidence, I’m not really sure). But for professional counterinsurgency operators such as our SWJ community, the thing to understand at this point is the intention and concept behind current ops in Iraq: if you grasp this, you can tell for yourself how the operations are going, without relying on armchair pundits. So in the interests of self-education (and cutting out the commentariat middlemen—sorry, guys) here is a field perspective on current operations.
Then he goes into what the surge really is:

These operations are qualitatively different from what we have done before. Our concept is to knock over several insurgent safe havens simultaneously, in order to prevent terrorists relocating their infrastructure from one to another, and to create an operational synergy between what we're doing in Baghdad and what's happening outside. Unlike on previous occasions, we don't plan to leave these areas once they’re secured. These ops will run over months, and the key activity is to stand up viable local security forces in partnership with Iraqi Army and Police, as well as political and economic programs, to permanently secure them. The really decisive activity will be police work, registration of the population and counterintelligence in these areas, to comb out the insurgent sleeper cells and political cells that have "gone quiet" as we moved in, but which will try to survive through the op and emerge later. This will take operational patience, and it will be intelligence-led, and Iraqi government-led. It will probably not make the news (the really important stuff rarely does) but it will be the truly decisive action.

When we speak of "clearing" an enemy safe haven, we are not talking about destroying the enemy in it; we are talking about rescuing the population in it from enemy intimidation. If we don't get every enemy cell in the initial operation, that's OK. The point of the operations is to lift the pall of fear from population groups that have been intimidated and exploited by terrorists to date, then win them over and work with them in partnership to clean out the cells that remain – as has happened in Al Anbar Province and can happen elsewhere in Iraq as well.

The "terrain" we are clearing is human terrain, not physical terrain. It is about marginalizing al Qa’ida, Shi’a extremist militias, and the other terrorist groups from the population they prey on. This is why claims that “80% of AQ leadership have fled” don’t overly disturb us: the aim is not to kill every last AQ leader, but rather to drive them off the population and keep them off, so that we can work with the community to prevent their return.

You should read the details. Especially those with big political mouths and tiny tactical understanding.