Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Political Correctness will kill you

A recent Inspector General report details how unsafe US airlines remain, as terrorists have repeatedly conducted dry runs on the nations airways, and nothing is done to stop them.

An air marshal who told The Times that he has been involved personally in terror probes that were ignored by federal security managers, called such behavior typical.

"Agency management was not only covering up numerous probes and dry-run encounters from Congress and other federal law-enforcement agencies, it was also hiding these incidents from their own flying air marshals," said P. Jeffrey Black, an air marshal stationed in Las Vegas.

Many U.S. Air Marshalls have complained, but those who have blown the whistle have been fired apparently. Airline pilots have also complained, many of them asking to be allowed to carry arms.

"What is disturbing to us as pilots is that there are now a number of incidents like this taking place across our industry and the vast majority of our flights are still defenseless," said Captain David Mackett, president of the Airline Pilots Security Alliance.

"If I were a member of Congress, I'd be asking some hard questions about why such a small percentage of flights have armed pilots or air marshals aboard, while the TSA whistles past the graveyard, asking us to believe none of this is related to terrorism," Mr. Mackett said.

This is something Congress should urgently take up. Apparently, the executives involved are more concerned with not being accused of profiling than with keeping the public safe. What is really inexcusable and almost incomprehensible is that these men were flying on expired Visas. What the hell is wrong with this picture? Anyone with an expired Visa should be detained at the check-in line, not allowed to get on a frickin' plane.

And just what is the flying public supposed to do? I guess we all need to be prepared to take matters into our own hands, and even then, you have to be prepared to be personally sued by Muslims who are offended at the idea that you may fear for your life when they are behaving in a manner consistent with terrorist operations.

So what should you look for? Here's what has been reported regular in these types of incidents:

  • All members of a party attempting to be reseated
  • Counting passengers
  • Being up in the aisle when the plane is taking off or landing
  • Pretending not to understanding English
  • Hand signals
  • Long trips to the bathroom
  • Excessive service requests of the aircrew (attempting to keep them tide up)

And the odds are these are all going to be Muslim males, probably Arabs, although there remains the possibility of them being African, European, or American converts. If the truth offends people that is too damn bad, perhaps they should ask why their religion produces such heartless, bloodthirsty cowards who use the name of God to justify their viciousness.

Be prepared to act, stay aware of what is going on around you, and don't hesitate to bring suspicious activity to the attention of the air crew.

Aside from that, you should contact your Congressional representatives and demand some action before the another attack is allowed to occur.


Monday, May 28, 2007


While you are enjoying your cookouts, conversation with friends and family, and hopefully nice weather, take time to remember. Remember why we celebrate Memorial Day, and remember the hundreds of thousands that have died to create and defend this Republic and her many Liberties. And never take her for granted. Our peace and security rests on the shoulders of those who serve to protect her.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Chopper Jump

Well, it is time for an update. We have had a very heavy training schedule, most days I am up at 0500 and work until 1700-1800. The last few weeks I have had training on several software programs we will be using to conduct analysis, along with brushing up on MOS skills (MOS is what the Army calls your job), plus all stuff that goes along with mobilizing - paperwork, more paperwork, drawing gear from supply, briefings on everything under the sun, and of course supervising cleaning details.

But yesterday was one of those days that makes it all worth it - we jumped out of UH-60 Blackhawks. Chopper jumps are definitely the best we get to do. You sit in the open door and get to take in the view as the bird takes off and moves to the DZ. Then when it is time to jump, you just scoot out the door.

You aren't moving that fast, so there isn't the same blast of air when you jump out of a plane. And yesterday was a gorgeous day for jumping, with just enough wind to offset the forward thrust of our chutes to allow you to land straight down if you steered the chute just right. We use the SF-10, which is a steerable chute, developed by the forest service for Smokejumpers, since they have to jump into some really small DZs. I was able to get two jumps in yesterday, and my buddy T was trying to get us on a 3rd, but we ran out of time and chutes. Many thanks to the aircrew for a great day and to the riggers (the guys who pack our chutes) for a safe landing.

Here is a great video someone else has posted on YouTube if you want to see the whole ride.

I've got a 4 day weekend, so I will probably post again, but after that I may not have much time or connectivity for a while, since my company is going to JRTC for a training rotation. While LA is hot, humid, and miserable JRTC is a fantastic national resource for being able to train under realistic conditions. It has 100s of role players, a dozen villages, and a real US Army Infantry unit whose full time job is to play the bad guys. It basically sucks and is hard, but you get a lot of lessons learned in a non-lethal environment, so it is the time to make and correct mistakes, all in all I am glad we are going, although this will be my 3rd time there.

(grumpy notes: for OPSEC reasons, none of the pictures posted on this blog that show anyone's face are of my unit, I pull them from other places on the web so you can see what I am talking about.)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Bruce Willis to Hollywood - STFU!

Not that actors aren't entitled to their opinions - but just because they are members of the Film Actors Guild they shouldn't start feeling all self-important. Being an action star doesn't make you an expert on military strategy.

Take it from Bruce:

I don't think my opinion means jack s**t, because I'm an actor. "Why do actors think their opinions mean more because you act? You just caught a break as an actor. There are hundreds - thousands - of actors who are just as good as I am, and probably better. "Have you heard anything useful come out of an actor's mouth lately?"

I believe Gary Sinise said something similar to some silly reporter who shoved a mike in his faced and asked what he thought of the war. He said something like - Who cares what I think, I'm just an actor. I tried to find the exact quote but couldn't - if anyone knows what it is shoot me an e-mail.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Funding delay starting to cause supply issues?

The delay in funding troops is starting to cause trouble in the supply chain, and quite possibly costing the lives of troops in the field. Anyone who reads this please contact your representatives and demand either the we withdraw immediately, or that funding be released. There have got to be other ways for the Dems and W to fight this out without continuing to hold up money. This nonsense of saying "we support the troops" but not providing critical funding is a lie.

Today I was finally issued my body armour, which had arrived late. It is the wrong size (small, which I am not) and green (I am going to Iraq). The color part really is more silly than an issue, but the size is a big problem because it doesn't fit. Additionally, the plates (which actually provide the ballistic protection) I was issued are for a medium vest, so the plates don't fit in the vest. I didn't want to even sign for it, but was told to take it and (maybe) I could exchange it later. My buddy was issued a small vest and large amour plates, which don't fit in the vest. I was told that the supply system was exhausted and we were lucky to get anything! I am seriously having to contemplate buying my own set. But I am hopeful that this will get straightened out before I get in country.

Blackfive is reporting that the delivery of new MRAP vehicles that can stop IEDs is being put at risk due to the delay in funding. This will eventually cost American GIs there lives, and is really unacceptable.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thank you Michael Yon

I have seen Michael Yon's name a few differnt times in the blogosphere, and finally got to his site Michael Yon Online. He is an independent correspondent in Iraqi, and all you need to know about the kind of man he is from his site:

I’ve been criticized for using terms like terrorist and enemy in my dispatches. Most critics are a safe distance from the battleground. ... There’s no value in using imprecise language in a futile attempt to appear objective. There is a difference between Coalition soldiers and Iraqi police officers and the terrorists and criminals they confront. Whether you call them insurgents or resistance fighters or terrorists, the people who wake up in the morning plotting how to drive explosives-laden cars into crowds of children have to be confronted.

Combat is just one form of confrontation. I chose another way. By getting close enough to the truth, for long enough to recognize when reality reveals it, I confront the distortions in how this struggle is portrayed. I do it because we need to see this clearly: what happens in and to Iraq is a defining moment for our nation, and the world. This enemy is smart and they are deadly, but they are also losing. Iraq can become a strong and free nation. But it will take the constant application of pressure over time to stem the flow of blood. If we back off too soon, they will rebound. If we cut our losses and run, they will follow us home. Peace can prevail here, if we can use our strength to maintain our progress.

Good stuff.

Ramp Jump

Quick update here - I finished up my Iraqi Arabic course, so now the hard part will be finding ways to maintain what I learned without any Iraqi speakers around. Of course once in country that won't be such an issue.

I had my first ramp jump off a C130 yesterday - it was a blast. Perfect weather for a jump too, sunny, warm, and almost no wind. I don't find it scary, but there are guys that are always really nervous, and they jump anyways, so I guess they're braver than me.

At the unit we're busy inventorying, packing, and just generally getting ready. There has also been a unusal amount of mis- or non- communication about what is going on or who needs to be where. Given that, as a unit, we won't be together much longer everyone seems taking it in stride. We'll see if things get better once we're in our permanent organizations.

And of course given where were going, drinking as often as possible. The theory seems to be that we can somehow drink extra now for what we won't drink there it will all balance out [;)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Iraqi Plea - Don't Abandon Us

A growing stream of reports from people in Iraqi (be they milbloggers or Iraqis themselves) points to an improving security situation, especially in al-anbar. If these improvements take hold, the terrorists will likely attempt more spectacular attacks to derail progress, sow fear and hatred, and keep the Iraqi people separated from American troops.

To not give the current tactics (the so-called "surge" a term
I hate) would be to abandon those Iraqis who have kept faith with us and are trying against the odds to build a future for themselves. And it would not make strategic sense at all, it certainly will not stop the fighting, and it is likely we would be re-engaged in some future conflict in the area.

Those calling for withdrawal may think it is the least painful option, but its benefits would be short-lived. The fate of the region and the world is linked with ours. Leaving a broken Iraq in the Middle East would offer international terrorism a haven and ensure a legacy of chaos for future generations. Furthermore, the sacrifices of all the young men and women who stood up here would have been in vain.

Iraqis, for all our determination and courage, cannot succeed alone. (read the rest)

Withdrawal would again show that for all America's military might, its people are weak and easily demoralized, not able to sustain in face of adversity. (see: U.S. public is running out of one resource America's enemies appear to have in abundance -- patience) I can understand why people are tired of this war, but we can't change where we are, we can't take back the invasion, the incompetence of the CPA and the fact that real counter-insurgency tactics, despite being well know and well articulated weren't tried for 4 year. The decision we have is to move forward or retreat - but unlike Vietnam, our enemies will not stop attacking us if we retreat.

Withdraw in the face of some hope that things are improving would be the highest act cowardice since Dutch peacekeepers watched as Serb forces separate men and boys from women, and loaded them on buses to be slaughtered after the fall of Srebrenica.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Go Joe Lieberman

As promised, President Bush vetoed the Congress's surrender plan. Now that they have scored their political points, they will probably pass some form of funding for the war.

Senator Joseph Lieberman had this to say:

The Iraq war is not 'lost' - but if this supplemental had become law, it would have been.

General Petraeus warned us last week that, 'Iraq is, in fact, the central front of Al Qaeda's global campaign' against us.

The big question before us, then, is whether we respond to Al Qaeda's terrorism by turning away, as it hopes we do - abandoning the future of Iraq, the Middle East and ultimately our own security to the very people responsible for the terrible atrocities we see in Iraq - or whether we stand and fight.

Rather than undermining General Petraeus and handing Al Qaeda a victory, Congress should take swift and responsible action to get General Petraeus and our troops in the field the support that they need to prevail.

And last week, Senator Lieberman gave this response to Senator Reid

When we say that U.S. troops shouldn't be "policing a civil war," that their operations should be restricted to this narrow list of missions, what does this actually mean?

To begin with, it means that our troops will not be allowed to protect the Iraqi people from the insurgents and militias who are trying to terrorize and kill them. Instead of restoring basic security, which General Petraeus has argued should be the central focus of any counterinsurgency campaign, it means our soldiers would instead be ordered, by force of this proposed law, not to stop the sectarian violence happening all around them—no matter how vicious or horrific it becomes.

In short, it means telling our troops to deliberately and consciously turn their backs on ethnic cleansing, to turn their backs on the slaughter of innocent civilians—men, women, and children singled out and killed on the basis of their religion alone. It means turning our backs on the policies that led us to intervene in the civil war in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, the principles that today lead many of us to call for intervention in Darfur.

This makes no moral sense at all.

The emphasis is mine. He makes me proud to hail from Connecticut.

I am again struck by the odd position of the Democrats in supporting ethnic cleansing in Iraq while calling for action to stop ethnic cleansing in Darfur.