How low can you go?

There’s an old saying in aviation circles, that you can only tie the low altitude record, never beat it.

Looks like the Dutch are coming pretty close to tying it.

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H/T: Will at The Hostages

What do you want?

Posting has been light of late partly because we lost Cranky, which took the wind out of my sails, and partly because I just haven’t been inspired.

Having said that, what would you like to see more of?

Feel free to choose more than one, and vote as often as you’d like.

[polldaddy poll=1318784]

Update:

Who’s the drunk who said “Go Air Force?”

You dorks do know you are allowed to start your own blogs, don’t you?

Load HEAT

OK, I’ll probably have to turn in my Guy Card after this week, but here goes.

I love Sarah McLachlan. One of the best gifts ever given to me was “Mirrorball”, her live concert CD from 1999. Almost 10 years on, I still like to pop it in the player on a long drive. Aside from the music and lyrics, it is one of the best produced live albums ever.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI1p0PXq6TM]

Dammit.

Some of you folks enjoy going through my blogroll and finding other interesting sites that way.

I’m sorry to say that a fellow blogger and good friend on the internet has shuffled off this mortal coil.

Cranky was supposedly the most curmudgeonly commenter in the internet. Funny, I never did see him get cranky.

Go with God, friend.

Brief thoughts on the Gaza cease fire

So Israel has announced a unilateral cease fire and pulled its troops out of Gaza. Some on the right are unhappy that Israel has ceased offensive actions so soon. But here’s the thing- they were rapidly reaching the point of diminishing returns. All military actions take place in a political sphere, both domestic and international.

Domestic Israeli politics supported the incursion as a means to curb Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, provided there were not a lot of casualties among the Israeli ground forces.

Internationally, there was generally support (or at least muted condemnation) for the same goal.

Israel could reasonably expect its operations in Gaza to attrit a portion of the Hamas leadership, locate and destroy stockpiles of rockets and the production centers for them, disrupt the smuggling tunnel network and punish Hamas enough to make them reconsider the efficacy of their rocket attacks.

What ground operations could not be expected to do was destroy Hamas as a political entity, nor cow the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to the point where they sued for peace. And Israel has no desire at all to engage in long term occupation of Gaza. That would be costly in terms of money, leave Israeli troops vulnerable to attack by insurgent forces and undermine domestic political support and international forbearance of their actions.
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As to the timing of the cease fire, there can be reasonable disagreement whether it came too soon, too late, or just right, but to argue that Israel could have continued to fight in Gaza without paying an undue penalty of some sort is niave.

Logistics in the GWOT

We’ve talked about logistics a couple times here. One of the terms of art in logistics is “Lines of Communication.” When you and I say communication, we generally mean telephone access or internet or what not. When the military says it, they mean supply lines.

After the success of the surge in Iraq, there were predictable calls for a surge in Afghanistan. And indeed, at the recommendation of GEN Petraeus, we expect to see US troop numbers in Afghanistan almost double. Part of the reason there have been so few troops in country has been the strain of operations in Iraq. But that’s only part of the reason. The other, probably bigger reason has been that the lines of communication to Afghanistan have been tenuous at best. Let’s take a look at the two different theaters.

First up, Iraq:

u1_az-iraq-mapA quick glance at the map shows the main road networks of Iraq run north and south along the river valleys, where, not surprisingly, most of the population lives. There is also a significan network extending west to Syria and Jordan. For a logistician, Iraq isn’t a huge challenge. Supplies can come in via ports on the Persian Gulf, either at Basra or through Kuwait. They can then be trucked or trained north to Bagdhad or points further north. Alternatively, there is a supply chain that can run through friendly ports in Turkey and be shipped down from there to the northern border of Iraq. In pinch, supplies could be sent through Jordan. Overall, there is a well established infrastructure with ports, trains and developed road network that gives logisticians options for supplying forces in the field. Insurgents in the past spent considerable effort on attacking these supply convoys, but there was never any real threat that they could stop the flow of supplies.

Afghanistan is a slightly different matter:

afghanistanThe first thing you’ll notice is that Afghanistan is a land locked country. That quite obviously means that supplies have to transit another nation. That’s something logisticians don’t like, because of the potential for those nations to shut down access. Secondly, unlike Iraq, Afghanistan has virtually no infrastructure such as a well developed road network. Afghanistan Shrugged has a pretty good picture showing what passes for a highway over there. Let’s just say it isn’t the I-90.

Currently, the main supply route for Coalition forces in Afghanistan runs through Pakistan and over the mountain passes into Afghanistan. This poses a couple issues that concern logisticians. One, while Pakistan is a nominal ally in the GWOT, just how dedicated the current regime is remains a matter of some conjecture. Secondly, there is pretty much only one road, which has a limited throughput in the best of times. Given that this road also goes through chokepoints such as mountain passes that are vulnerable to attack by insurgents, that worries logisticans no end. There’s only so many troops you can support via one road, and if the road is closed, what do you do with the troops who have been cut off? Airlift could probably keep them alive, but not well enough supplied to conduct operations.

There is some good news however. Hot Air brings us news that an agreement has been reached with Russia and other Central Asian nations (often referred to as “The ‘Stans”) to open up a second supply route. Many of the commenters there advise against trusting Putin, and wonder what the quid pro quo was. Fair questions. The answer to the first part is that no one is going to trust Putin to act in anything other than his own best interest. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, it wasn’t an excercise in imperial expansion, but rather a fundamentally defensive operation. The Soviet Union was gravely concerned with Islamic unrest, given that huge swaths of their southern territory are primarily Mulim. It was the impending collapse of the Afghani government and probable descent into Islamic fanaticism that prompted them to act. The revolution in Iran certainly did nothing to ally their fears. And those fears are still with Russia. To a goodly extent, the ‘Stans are either autocratic regimes facing the same problem of potential unrest, or have aligned themselves with the West to such an extent that they generally wish to hold onto whatever modernizations that alignment has given them.  So for them to have the US and its NATO allies suppressing extremism in Afghanistan for just the price of letting them use their territory as a supply line, well, that’s cheap at twice the cost.

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As for a quid pro quo, no details have been released, but most of the supply chain will actually be operated by host nation civilian personnel. That means we will be contracting and hiring locals to drive the trucks and move the supplies. And that is a direct injection of hard US currency into the region, something that is almost always welcome.

For the logistician, two routes are always better than one. For our politicians, it also provides flexibility. Pakistan can no longer threaten to cut off our troops in theater, since there is an alternate route, on that is a good deal more secure than through the tribal areas of Pakistan. Conversely, should Russia and the ‘Stans try to unduly influence operations by “managing” the supply chain, we still have the Pakistani option.

Something makes me think that some loggies are gonna sleep a little better soon.

Load HEAT!

We are all about culture here, so we have a fine appreciation for Academy Award Winning Actresses. Mind you we saw Mighty Aphrodite and were wholly unimpressed by the rest of the film. But we liked Mira Sorvino. And we absolutely loved her in The Replacement Killers. And who can forget that classic, Romey and Michelle’s High School Reunion? And did I mention we really liked her guest appearance on House?

Things that really piss me off…

Via Mere Rhetoric, news on bringing war criminals to justice:

Israel has formally presented the UN with evidence outlining Hamas’s military exploitation of Palestinian civilians. The UN has responded by tasking at least two commissions with gathering evidence for war crimes prosecutions related to Palestinian civilian casualties. Prosecutions of Israeli officials of course. Not Hamas officials. Because how would that make any sense? (emphasis mine-XBradTC)

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Why I don’t always trust the Palestinian press…

The Palestinian press often try to portray Israel’s actions as disproportionate and bloodthirsty. Now, I won’t deny that there has been a great deal of civilian blood shed in the recent fighting. But I will say that I take Hamas claims with a grain of salt. Here’s why…

Continue reading “Why I don’t always trust the Palestinian press…”